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Sunday, May 30, 2021

Two New York-Penn League umpires identified (to a reasonable degree of certainty)

One of the cooler things about the 1990 minor league sets from Bill Pucko is the photographs.

The standard posed photographs are there in the six Pucko New York-Penn League sets. But there were some unusual shots, too.

Take, for instance, Jim Eschen's card in the Pittsfield Mets set. The photo could have been the standard head shot, but it wasn't. It was Eschen - and two umpires, appearing to eschange lineups.

One of the cool things about this project is finding information, and sometimes figuring things out and making connections and featuring players, coaches, staff and others as they appear.

If they appear on a card and can be identified, I'll see what I can find out about them.

Through the length of this project, I've only ever profiled one umpire, and that was a player who later became an umpire.

But the umpires who roamed the minors in 1990, they didn't get cards. So I haven't had the opportunity to feature any. 

These two umpires, though, did. They made it onto Jim Eschen's card. 

What if I could identify them? If I could identify them, I should research them, too. After all, they have a card, if only cameos on Eschen's.

So, I went to take a look I believe I have identified them: Michael Landsman, left, and A.J. Lostaglio, right. 

At least I'm pretty sure that's them, based on a few box scores, educated guesses and searches. 

The first question, though, is when did the photographer visit Pittsfield? It obviously had to have been early in the season. And it appears to have been the earliest, that these were taken the very first homestand, with Oneonta visiting.

I base this on two observations: The Wahconah Park card and another card, Todd Douma's that appears to show a tarp in the background.

The Wahconah Park card has a string of balloons in Mets colors over the main entrance, which suggests a big game, like Opening Night/Day.

The other card shows the pitcher Douma in a standard card pose. But what's interesting about his card is there appears to be the tarp covering the field in the background.

Pittsfield's original Opening Night - with Commissioner Fay Vincent in attendance no less - was rained out, according to The Berkshire Eagle's coverage. The opening game was then made up with a double-header the next day. 

The cool thing about box scores is that they'll (sometimes) identify the umpires. And, thanks to, I can look through newspapers by date and page, to look for box scores.

Unfortunately, The Eagle's box scores for that opening double-header did not include the umpire names. 

But, through an early scheduling quirk, Pittsfield played Oneonta for two games in Pittsfield. Then, both teams traveled to Oneonta for two games there. Presumably, the two-man umpiring crew traveled with them. Right?

It appears that happened other times that season. The Elmira Pioneers started the season against Auburn, in a similar fashion, home and away

The Elmira Star-Gazette's box score for the opener June 20 identified the umpires as "Schrupp" and "Sweeney." Days later, Elmira played Auburn at Auburn June 23 and that box score identified the same "Schrupp" and "Sweeney" as umpires.

The umpires appeared to travel with the teams.

So, would the box scores for Pittsfield's two-game set at Oneonta identify the umpires? Yes.

The box score for the June 21 game at Oneonta, as published in The Binghamton Press and Sun-Bulletin, identified the umpires as "Landsman" and "Lostaglio."

Then a few more searches gives both their first names, Michael Landsman and A.J. Lostaglio.

I couldn't quickly find any more recent photos of Landsman. But, though there isn't much to see of the umpire on the right other than his arm, more recent photos of Lostaglio do appear to be close enough to back him as the that umpire. 

So, there you have it, the two umpires on Jim Eschen's card, to a reasonable degree of certainty, are Michael Landsman and A.J. Lostaglio. 

The profiles of all three:

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