A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

Recent entries:
“I’d rather be someone’s shot of whiskey than everyone’s cup of tea” (3/28)
“Strong is the new skinny” (3/28)
“Three umpires are sitting in a bar…” (baseball joke) (3/28)
America’s Mayor (3/27)
“Diplomacy without force is like an orchestra without instruments” (3/27)
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Entry from March 28, 2015
“Three umpires are sitting in a bar…” (baseball joke)

Professor Harvey Cantril’s story about three umpires talking about how they call balls and strikes has been cited in print since at least 1957. The first umpire calls them as he sees them, and the second umpire calls them as they are. The third umpire says they’re nothing until he calls them.


Google Books
August 1957, The American Journal of Psychiatry, “Perception and Interpersonal Relations” by Harvey Cantril, pg. 126:
The story concerns three baseball umpires who were discussing the problems of their profession. The first umpire said, “Some’s balls and some’s strikes and I calls ‘em as they is.” The second umpire said, “Some’s balls and some’s strikes and I calls ‘em as I sees ‘em.” While the third umpire said, “Some’s balls and some’s strikes, but they ain’t nothin’ till I calls ‘em.”

Google Books
Reflections on the Human Venture
By Hadley Cantril and Charles Heath Bumstead
New York: New York University Press
1960
Pg. 16:
We might first illustrate what we mean by a story of three baseball umpires who were discussing their profession. The first one said, “Some’s balls and some’s strikes and I calls ‘em as they is.” The second one said, “Some’s balls and some’s strikes and I calls ‘em as I sees ‘em.” While the third one said, “Some’s balls and some’s strikes but they ain’t nothin’ till I calls ‘em.”

Google Books
Psychological Foundations of Education:
An Introduction to Human Development and Learning

By Morris L. Bigge and Maurice P. Hunt
New York, NY: Harper & Row
1962
Pg. 394:
See if you can get the point of the following story. What is the significance of the third umpire’s statement? What makes a ball a ball and a strike a strike? “The story concerns three baseball umpires who were discussing the problems of their profession. The first umpire said, “Some’s balls and some’s strikes and I calls ‘em as they is.” The second umpire said, “Some’s balls and some’s strikes and I calls ‘em as I sees ‘em.” While the third umpire said, “Some’s balls and some’s strikes, but they ain’t nothin’ till I calls ‘em.”

23 August 1965, Augusta (GA) Chronicle, “Each citizen must not be his own umpire” by Sydney J. Harris, pg. 4, col. 4:
The above item reminded me of a story told by Prof. Hadley Cantril, the social psychologist, in explaining the different ways we can approach what is “right” and what is “wrong” in such matters.

Three umpires were discussing the problems of their occupation. One said: “Some are balls and some are strikes and I call them as they are.” The second said: “Some are balls and some are strikes and I call them as I see them.”

But the third umpire said: “I see them coming across, and some are balls and some are strikes, but they’re nothing until I call them.”

The third umpire was the only realistic one of the three. What is called a “strike” or a “ball” in baseball depends not on the absolute “truth” of each pitch, but on the decision of the umpire. In a real sense, each pitch is “nothing” until the umpire calls it.

The Journal of the National Athletic Trainers Association (September 1965)
Pg. 6, col. 2:
Three umpires were discussing the fine art of judgment, and the calling of balls and strikes was the subject of the day. “I call them as I see them,” stated the first. The second responded, “I call them as they are.” The third closed the conversation by declaring, “They ain’t nothing until I call them.”

Straight Dope Message Board
Umpire saying “too close to call”
Stana Claus
04-24-2013, 03:09 PM
Three umpires were at a bar and discussing the calling of balls and strikes.
The first umpire says, “I call ‘em like I see ‘em.”
The second ump responds, “I call ‘em like they ARE.”
The third ump declares, “They AIN’T until I call ‘em!”

Frederick (MD) News-Post
WORDS OF FAITH: Balls and strikes
By Toni Fish Special to the Newspost
As spring returns and my fantasy turns to baseball, I am reminded of an old joke about three umpires in a bar. The first one says, “There’re balls, and there’re strikes, and I just call ’em as I see ’em.” The second umpire, trying to top the first, says, “Well, there’re balls, and there’re strikes, and I just call ’em as they are.” Finally, after a long pause, the third umpire says, “There’re balls, and there’re strikes, but they ain’t nothin’ until I call ’em.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • Saturday, March 28, 2015 • Permalink


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