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Strike Three: Umpires' Demand for Discrimination

  • Christopher A. Parsons
  • Johan Sulaeman
  • Michael C. Yates
  • Daniel S. Hamermesh

We explore umpires' racial/ethnic preferences in the 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 runs per game and improves his team's chance of winning. The results suggest that standard measures of salary discrimination that adjust for measured productivity may generally be flawed. We derive the magnitude of the bias generally and apply it to several examples.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w13665.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13665.

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Date of creation: Nov 2007
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Publication status: published as Parsons, Christopher A., Johan Sulaeman, Michael C. Yates, and Daniel S. Hamermesh. 2011. "Strike Three: Discrimination, Incentives, and Evaluation" American Economic Review, 101(4): 1410-35.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13665
Note: LS
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  1. Michael A. Stoll & Steven Raphael & Harry J. Holzer, 2004. "Black job applicants and the hiring officer's race," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 57(2), pages 267-287, January.
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  3. 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.
  4. Gwartney, James & Haworth, Charles, 1974. "Employer Costs and Discrimination: The Case of Baseball," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(4), pages 873-81, July/Aug..
  5. Eric Zitzewitz, 2006. "Nationalism in Winter Sports Judging and Its Lessons for Organizational Decision Making," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(1), pages 67-99, 03.
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  7. Michael A. Stoll & Steven Raphael & Harry J. Holzer, 2004. "Black Job Applicants and the Hiring Officer's Race," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 57(2), pages 267-287, January.
  8. Joseph Price & Justin Wolfers, 2010. "Racial Discrimination Among NBA Referees," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(4), pages 1859-1887, November.
  9. Stephen Donald & Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2004. "What is Discrimination? Gender in the American Economic Association," NBER Working Papers 10684, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Anthony C. Krautmann & Elizabeth Gustafson & Lawrence Hadley, 2003. "A Note on the Structural Stability of Salary Equations: Major League Baseball Pitchers," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 4(1), pages 56-63, February.
  11. Nardinelli, Clark & Simon, Curtis, 1990. "Customer Racial Discrimination in the Market for Memorabilia: The Case of Baseball," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(3), pages 575-95, August.
  12. Lawrence M. Kahn, 1991. "Discrimination in professional sports: A survey of the literature," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 44(3), pages 395-418, April.
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