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Strike Three: Umpires' Demand for Discrimination

  • Parsons, Christopher A.

    ()

    (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)

  • Sulaeman, Johan

    ()

    (Southern Methodist University)

  • Yates, Michael C.

    ()

    (Auburn University)

  • Hamermesh, Daniel S.

    ()

    (Royal Holloway; University of Texas at Austin)

We explore how umpires' racial/ethnic preferences are expressed in their evaluation of Major League Baseball pitchers. Controlling for umpire, pitcher, batter and catcher fixed effects and many other factors, strikes are more likely to be called if the umpire and pitcher match race/ethnicity. This effect only exists where there is little scrutiny of umpires' behavior – in ballparks without computerized systems monitoring umpires' calls, at poorly attended games, and when the called pitch cannot determine the outcome of the at-bat. If a pitcher shares the home-plate umpire's race/ethnicity, he gives up fewer hits, strikes out more batters, and improves his team's chance of winning. The general implication is that standard measures of salary discrimination that adjust for measured productivity may be flawed. We derive the magnitude of the bias generally and apply it to several examples.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3899.

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Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: American Economic Review, 2011, 101 (4), 1410-1435
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3899
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  9. Scully, Gerald W, 1974. "Pay and Performance in Major League Baseball," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(6), pages 915-30, December.
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  11. Findlay, David W & Reid, Clifford E, 1997. "Voting Behavior, Discrimination and the National Baseball Hall of Fame," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(3), pages 562-78, July.
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