NEW YORK (AP) -- Umpires are livid that Major League Baseball has sent investigators to their hometowns, asking neighbors a series of questions that include whether the ump belongs to the Ku Klux Klan.
World Umpires Association president John Hirschbeck and union spokesman Lamell McMorris say the supervisor of security and investigations in the commissioner's office has asked questions about Klan membership to neighbors of two umpires who reside in Kentucky and similar questions to neighbors of an umpire who lives in the St. Louis area.
Baseball stepped up background checks last August, after it became public that the FBI was investigating NBA referee Tim Donaghy for betting on games.
MLB asked umpires to sign authorizations allowing the sport to conduct financial background checks, but the umps balked.
Hirschbeck says MLB is taking what the WUA considers to be a typical heavy-handed approach to umpires and that it would be brought up in negotiations for the next labor contract. The current deal expires after the 2009 season.
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