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<B>MILLIONS OF AMERICAN BASEBALL FANS KNOW, WITH ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY, </B>that umpires are simply overpaid galoots who are doing an easy job badly. Millions of American baseball fans are wrong. <BR><BR><I>As They See ’Em </I>is an insider’s look at the largely unknown world of professional umpires, the small group of men (and the very occasional woman) who make sure America’s favorite pastime is conducted in a manner that is clean, crisp, and true. Bruce Weber, a <I>New York Times </I>reporter, not only interviewed dozens of professional umpires but entered their world, trained to become an umpire, then spent a season working games from Little League to big league spring training. <I>As They See ’Em </I>is Weber’s entertaining account of this experience as well as a lively exploration of what amounts to an eccentric secret society, with its own customs, its own rituals, its own colorful vocabulary. Writing with deep knowledge of and affection for baseball, he delves into such questions as: Why isn’t every strike created equal? Is the ump part of the game or outside of it? Why doesn’t a tie go to the runner? And what do umps and managers say to each other during an argument, really? <BR><BR>Packed with fascinating reportage that reveals the game as never before and answers the kinds of questions that fans, exasperated by the clichés of conventional sports commentary, pose to themselves around the television set, Bruce Weber’s <I>As They See ’Em </I>is a towering grand slam.