You're the Umpire by Wayne Stewart

You're the Umpire by Wayne Stewart

Author:Wayne Stewart
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781510739314
Publisher: Skyhorse
Published: 2019-05-14T16:00:00+00:00


JUSTIN VERLANDER

SECTION THREE

OBSCURE RULES AND SITUATIONS

Ask a dozen umpires what they feel is the most difficult play for them to call correctly and, while you may not get twelve different responses, you will probably get ten varying scenarios.

American League ump Bill Kinnamon once said for him the toughest call was “throwing a guy out of a game after you blew the hell out of the play.”

Cal Hubbard disagreed, saying a play at second, such as a steal, involving a sliding runner and a tag was the most difficult. “You can see it coming, but you don’t know which way the runner is going to slide, where the throw is going to be, and how the fielder is going to take the throw.”

Interestingly, in addition to umpiring, Hubbard was with the Green Bay Packers and had three championship titles under his belt. He is also the answer to a famous trivia question—who is the first man to be inducted into three Hall of Fames? He was honored in Cooperstown, and by the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame.

Minor league umpire Duke Rash said a very difficult call is “a high pitch, half swing. It’s a tough call to make because the catcher is right up in front of you and sometimes you get blocked out. So you have to ask for help from your partner.”

Then there’s the swipe tag, not only one of the toughest plays for umps, but it is also a play that, on some occasions, requires them to rely upon a trick. In a John Kuenster article in Baseball Digest, Tim Welke spoke of how he realized he had missed a play in the 2008 World Series. Philadelphia’s swift Jimmy Rollins was on third base and Chase Utley was on first when Ryan Howard hit a ball to Tampa Bay pitcher Andy Sonnanstine, who began a rundown play between third and home on Rollins. Eventually, third baseman Evan Longoria tagged Rollins on his derriere, but Welke, unable to see the sweep tag well, called Rollins safe. Now, here’s the umpiring trick that usually works, but failed this time: “A lot of times on a swipe tag, the glove will pause [upon making contact with a runner] . . . I never saw the glove pause.”

Tyler Bolick and Ed Rogers, who worked as an umpiring duo in the South Atlantic League in 1999, pointed out some difficulties unique to the minors. “The toughest play for us,” said Bolick, “is the check swing with the umpire’s position being from the middle [of the field].” He was referring to the fact that in the majors a check swing appeal ruling is made by an umpire on first or third, gazing at a good angle towards the hitter. With a two-man crew, the umpire in the field doesn’t have such an angle.

Rogers said that it’s tough when the pitched ball hits a player’s hands with the hands “not being part of the bat.” He said, “The sound of hands being hit



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