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The Umps Are Balking


Up Front: BALLPARK FIGURES

THE UMPS ARE BALKING

BASEBALL UMPIRES HAVE TO endure their share of beefs. Now, they've got one of their own: the unauthorized use of their photos on baseball cards, posters, and other sports merchandise. Unlike players, who can reap yearly about $80,000 apiece from licensing their likenesses for commercial use, Major League Baseball umps have struck out trying to get paid for the same thing.

So 14 of the about 60 umps are suing seven makers of baseball paraphernalia, including Topps and Upper Deck, for making money off their likenesses without permission. Umps say they're often shown making controversial calls because it's dramatic. Check out the card with a face-off between Philadelphia Phillies' Lenny Dykstra and umpire Angel Hernandez, a plaintiff in the suit.

Mostly, manufacturers say the umpires are incidental to their products and that the umps' images are often unrecognizable. Says Topps spokesman Marty Appel of the feud: "With all due respect to umpires, in terms of cards, you don't need them."EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT, WITH OLUWABUNMI SHABI Linda Himelstein


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