Cover the Bases Interview with Perry Barber

by on March 10, 2010

The following is Episode 1 of a conversation with Perry Barber. We had such a great time talking about baseball, umpiring, and even music that I decided it would be best to split our time together into two programs for your listening pleasure.  Enjoy!

Our special guest on this episode of Cover the Bases came to us as a friend of a friend, and we are so glad that she did!  She once left a comment on a post here, and with a couple of clicks I found her web site at and I knew immediately that I wanted to experience her passion for baseball first hand.

The motivation to have her as a guest was initially sparked by her career as a professional umpire, but as I discovered, her interests, occupations, and experiences run wider and deeper than just that interesting topic.  I also realized that it was more than any single episode of a podcast could contain!  So, I will deliver our conversation in segments and have invited Perry to revisit in the future, maybe we can even get her to give some reviews of the baseball books that she has on her Kindle!

We begin our discussion by diving into her musical background and her relationship with a gentleman who baseball fans should know, Steve Goodman.  Steve was a Grammy winning folk singer who composed the ballad A Dying Cubs Fan’s Last Request. Perry shares the story of her first encounter with him and witnessing his immense talent first hand.

It also gives us a chance to discuss her CD, Belle of the Ballfield, which includes her songs Baseball, The Umpire Stands Alone, Down on the Farm, and Stuck on the Wrong Side of Love among many others.  The song Baseball was inspired by George Brett’s assault on .400 in 1983, and was included in a documentary called End of an Era about the New York Giants’ last game at the Polo Grounds in 1957.

We discuss the aspect of “fandom” as it pertains to an umpire.  Protocol and training require that an umpire remains unemotional, but as anyone can attest, there are moments when you can’t help but get caught up in the overall storyline of a great game. She does attempt to draw something educational from the excitement of a particular moment, rather than just getting caught up in it.  Sitting in the stands, it may also provide the opportunity to demonstrate to someone nearby the intricacies of detail that can be easily overlooked.  It is the beauty of the game that provides so much enjoyment on so many levels.

Perry points out the hardest aspect of learning to be a great umpire is the management of the game.  The balls & strikes, positioning, and rules can all be studied and learned, but the challenge of removing the emotion and maintaining control only can come through experience.  Knowing where to set the limits where the players can play the game, but still maintain control of the game is what all umpires must learn.

Join us for Episode Two of our conversation with Perry Barber, when we discuss the moment that she recognized her calling and the influence of her mother, as well as the challenges for women umpires and the glass ceilings that still must be shattered.

If you like hearing about the baseball books we profile on Cover the Bases, it might be time for you to pick up a Kindle from Amazon, so that you can take all the best Baseball Books with you no matter which stadiums you visit.

Let us know in the comments what you think about the Cover the Bases podcast. We would love to hear from you. Send a Tweet to @baseballisms with a quick message, send us an email or visit our Upload page with a video message. We look forward to growing a community of fans interested in the poetry of the game of baseball!

  • 212eric

    Great interview Joe! Listening to (female) Umpire Perry Barber was extremely informative and very entertaining. I enjoyed hearing about her career and life experiences, but was not surprised to learn that MLB is still far behind the times with regards not promoting female umpires to the major league level. In my opinion, they are really doing themselves a disservice by missing the opportunity to have Ms. Barber working as the first full-time female umpire. She is an intelligent, well-spoken woman and someone who would certainly be one of the best Ambassadors MLB could ever hope to have representing the game.

  • joemagennis

    Hi Eric, I agree that Perry is a great ambassador for the game of baseball. I believe that she is on a path to achieving great advancements in the recruitment and promotion of women in all aspects of the game. Thanks for visiting the site!

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