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Former National League Umpire Dies

December 17, 1995

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) _ Paul Pryor, a National League umpire from 1961 to 1981, died Friday. He was 68.

Anderson McQueen Funeral Home said only that Pryor died in a nursing home following a lengthy illness.

Pryor umpired the World Series in 1967, 1973 and 1980, worked the All-Star game in 1963, 1971 and 1978, and umpired the playoffs in 1970, 1974 and 1977.

When Pryor was in the major leagues, umpires preferred staying in the background. But confrontations have escalated, Pryor said several years ago, and not just because of the players.

``Some of these umpires have to have the last word″ he said. ``They’re laying a trap, so to speak. ... A lot of times these young umpires will follow (a player), yelling: `What did you say?′ Naturally, the player’s going to turn around, and then you’ve got a shouting match going and the umpire runs him.″

Pryor remembered calling the late Roberto Clemente out on strikes and getting a stream of invective in Spanish from the Pittsburgh Pirates star. ``I told him: `Estudie Espanol en la escuela para dos anos. Para afuera. I studied Spanish in school for two years. Take a hike.′

``The next time Clemente saw me, he said: ``Hey, Pablito, buena gente. Little Paul, you’re good people.′ And he warned all the other Latin players that I could speak Spanish.″

Pryor, born on July 10, 1927, was a minor league player who never made it to the majors. In addition to umpiring, he also owned a travel bag company.

He founded a celebrity golf tournament that benefited local charities. He also umpired at Legends of Baseball old-timers’ games at St. Petersburg’s Al Lang Stadium.

Several years ago Pryor was bowled over at home plate by actor Kevin Costner, who was chasing a foul ball. Costner helped him to his feet and apologized.

Pryor is survived by his wife, the former Francis Carleen Hammond, whom he married in 1952; three children: Fred of Bedford, Texas, Patrick of St. Petersburg, and Melanie of Leicester, Mass.; and two grandchildren.

The funeral is scheduled for Sunday evening with a burial to follow at Memorial Park Cemetery.

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