I Call Things As I See Them

Ralph “Babe” Pinelli - San Francisco, California
Broadcast during the 1950s
Ralph “Babe” Pinelli
Photo courtesy Chicago Historical Society

Major League Baseball player and umpire Ralph “Babe" Pinelli's philosophy of life is grounded in family, education, and God. And, he even believes baseball has been an important part of his life and beliefs.

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An umpire has to make instant decisions. I’ve learned to call things as I see them. This helps me make a quick reply to such an important and personal question as my belief. My philosophy of life is simple, with a vital, driving force: I believe in my God, my family, my country, and baseball.

Including baseball may seem out of place in this statement, but I firmly believe that baseball, more than being just a national pastime, has been officially bound up with American life, certainly with my own. It helped develop me physically as a boy. It taught me teamwork and an ability to cooperate with others. Another thing, it taught me to try to play according to the rules of the game. This has helped me throughout life.

My parents came to this country from Italy as poor immigrants. I grew up at a time when even a high school education was out of reach. My formal education never went beyond the elementary grades, but the lessons I learned at home, at church, and on the playground have carried me through. I believe firmly in higher education. My son was signed to a baseball contract when he was still in high school, but I insisted on a clause permitting him a full four-year college course before starting professional ball.

I believe that even more important than a college education, though, is the good, solid, practical, and religious training in the home and at church. My mother taught me a proper scale of values and trained me to live up to them. I still remember the sandlot game I had to leave before the final inning, so I could get on my Sunday suit and be at church in time for confirmation.

Experience has proved my belief in the importance of the family. This is where good, useful citizens come from. My wife and I have enjoyed the companionship of some 35 years of married life, and we have had the happiness of seeing our two sons grow into manhood and start their own families. We never had the pleasure of having a daughter, but now we happily share three granddaughters and five grandsons. Our happiness with them is a great consolation and comfort against the older years when many a couple grow lonely.

I have found strength and consolation in my church, and I have found peace and help in humble, daily prayer when I praise God for his goodness and ask Him to forgive me my trespasses, as I forgive others, and beg His blessings for myself, and my family and friends.

So these are the things I believe in: my God, who has given me a personal destiny and who deserves all praise and service; my family, who have given me happiness and strength; my country, which has given me every opportunity to live my life according to my conscience; and baseball, which has given me healthy recreation and solid training for life. This is my theology and philosophy of life.

As a National League umpire, Ralph “Babe" Pinelli officiated six World Series and four All-Star Games in the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s. Earlier in his career, Pinelli played third base for the Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox, and Detroit Tigers. (Photo courtesy of the Chicago Historical Society)