Pam Postema tells the tale of her twelve year minor league umpiring career. She does not present herself as a model citizen, or as someone with a cause other than her desire to make it to the show in blue. She does not seem like a particularly nice or insightful person. What she does offer is a hard-scrabble view of what it is to be an umpire, living on sub-coolie wages, dealing with usual and unusual (sexist) abuse from players, managers and almost everyone associated with the game. She remains bitter about what she sees as the bias and blatant unfairness of the system that denied her what she believes to be a well-deserved shot at the bigs. The language is harsh. The characters are sometimes amusing, often unpleasant. She has harsh words for many. This is not a book for kids, but adults or adolescents might be able to read it as a picture of minor league life and the the reality of sexism in baseball.
I didn't know it at the time, but Christine Wren was only the second woman ever to umpire a a minor League game. the first was Bernice Gera, a Jackson Heights, New York, housewife who sued for the right to become a professional umpire. Geera went to unpire school in 1967, but was told by minor league officials that she didn't have the necessary physical requirements. According to officials, Gera was too short (she was five two) to qualify for a position. She took her case to court, and in 1972, the New York State Human rights Division Court ruled in her favor, forcing the minor leagues to finally offer her a contract.
Baseball is about respect - earning it or losing it. Baseball is about survival. You're only as good as your last pitch, your last hit, your last victory, or in my case, your last call. All that other stuff about romance and charm is fine if you're sitting in the mezzanine level at Dodger Stadium, munching on Cracker Jack and sipping on a beer. But if you're an umpire, baseball is your worst enemy. All you want is a quick, two-hour game with no bangers, no foul tips off your knee, no rain delays, no extra innings, no bitchy catchers, no whiny pitchers, and no dead-above-the-neck managers, with nothing better to do than complain about every other call.
Of course that almost never happens, which is why umpires have learned to adapt. In a war, you have to.