After 26 years as an American league and major league baseball umpire, 67-year-old Al Clark of Williamsburg, Virginia, has hundreds of stories to fascinate devoted fans of the sport. He also has a cache of trivia to share.
“I have about 20 or 25 great, oddity fun facts that I like to talk about with travelers,” says Al, a featured presenter on many Sports Travel and Tours trips who adds a touch of whimsy and history to each experience.
For example, Al enjoys citing the story of left-handed pitcher Warren Spahn. “Although pitchers are notoriously bad hitters, Spahn had 368 major league wins as a pitcher and, oddly enough, 368 base hits as a major league hitter,” Al explains. “The odds of something like that happening are just astronomical, and fun facts like that lead to great conversation amongst travelers.”
Al is also more than happy to answer tourists’ questions and talk about different ballparks and players, such as the beloved Yogi Berra.
Having worked with Sports Travel and Tours for roughly 25 years—both before and after his retirement in 2001—Al has kicked off tours in Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; New York; Boston and even at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Upon meeting the travelers, Al assures them of the great memories they are about to make.
“I tell them that in order to have a good time with Sports Travel and Tours, they have only one obligation, and that is to show up on time,” Al says. “The tour hosts that President Jay Smith employs and what Jay does for his clients, are phenomenal. Sports Travel and Tours does everything to ensure that the traveler has a first-class, marvelous time. It is just as impressive as you can possibly imagine.”
Al’s ability to give tourists an experience they cannot get anywhere else is what makes him a perfect fit for Sports Travel and Tours. By sharing his “Ump’s Eye View” of baseball, Al is able to enrich travelers’ vacations and build anticipation for what is next to come.
“I travel to the first city on each tour and make a presentation to get everyone in the mood for the great trip they’re starting on,” Al says. “I tell them not only about umpiring and what they’re going to see on the field, but also what they’re going to see outside of the stadium. I recommend restaurants and attractions they should visit in order to make the most of their trip.”
Al has seen baseball history in the making throughout his career. He umped 3,392 regular season games (the ninth most of any umpire in major league baseball history), 56 post-season games, two World Series, two All Star Games, three American League Division Series and five American League Championship Series. It is almost as if he is a walking, talking baseball encyclopedia, a well of information that is just waiting to be tapped by intrigued baseball fans.
During his time spent sharing his “baseball fever” with hundreds of Sports Travel and Tours travelers, Al says he has seen some truly heart-warming scenarios. In fact, Al feels that one of the most impressive qualities of Sports Travel and Tours is the company’s ability to bring generations of people together through its sports trips.
“Seeing three generations – sons, daughters, granddaughters, grandmas and grandpas – all going on a baseball trip is so wonderful,” Al says. “It’s something I wish I could have done with my own dad and grandpa. What better way is there to spend family time than at a ballpark?”
Al adds that baseball’s ability to bring people together, generation after generation, is one of the things he loves most about America’s favorite pastime. “Baseball trips like these create amazing memories for the youngsters, and they’ll pay it forward for their children and grandchildren,” Al explains. “Baseball does that. Baseball is magic when it comes to your loved ones.”
Learn more about Al by reading his book, “Called Out But Safe: A Baseball Umpire’s Journey.”