NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Strike Three: Umpires' Demand for Discrimination

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

NBER Working Paper No. 13665
Issued in November 2007
NBER Program(s):   LS

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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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w13665

Published: 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.

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