FRESNO, Calif. -- Umpire Terry Cooney, who has filed criminal charges against Oakland A's Manager Billy Martin in the celebrated 'ump-bump' incident, said that if the players hadn't gone on strike June 12 the umpires might have.
Cooney, back home during the baseball strike, said his May 29 clash with the fiery Martin 'was the most severe bumping incident in baseball for some time.'
Cooney filed criminal assault charges in Toronto following the incident. Martin was suspended for seven days and fined $1,000 by American Legue president Lee MacPhail for belly-bumping Cooney and throwing dirt on him. He has appealed the suspension and fine.
Cooney revealed the umpires' association had considered a wildcat strike when MacPhail requested that Cooney and his crew be pulled off their assignment to a series in Oakland, fearing for Cooney's safety.
He said Richie Phillips, legal counsel for the umpires, believed MacPhail was getting pressure from Martin, who had requested that Cooney not be allowed to work any games involving AL West Division teams.
'Phillips had complete agreement from all the umpires in the National and American leagues that, in the event I was not allowed to work the Oakland series, that they, in fact, would not work in any of the ball games,' the muscular umpire said
Cooney said MacPhail relented and he planned to go to the first game of the series in Oakland June 12 but the baseball strike started the same day.
'Had we gone into Oakland and Martin refused to put a team on the field I would have forfeited the ball game,' Cooney said. 'In the event he had and wouldn't play if I was there, yes, all the umpires would have gone on a wildcat strike.'
The rugged looking Cooney says he has the full support of the Major League Umpires Association in connection with his suit.
'Parents are wondering how they're supposed to tell their children that they can't react to things in baseball like Martin did,' Cooney said. 'They fear their children will be asking, 'Why can't we? They do it in the majors. So why can't it be done on the Little League level?'