Trivia / Records & Feats
[The following material is reprinted with permission from Dan Schlossberg's Baseball Gold: Mining Nuggets from Our National Pastime, a $14.95 paperback published in March 2007 by Triumph Books. Copies may be ordered from www.triumphbooks.com.]
DID UMPS CHOKE?
By Dan Schlossberg
Like players, umpires face greater scrutiny during the World Series. Sometimes, they make bad calls. Four examples:
-1957 Game 4, Yankees at Braves. Nippy Jones leads off for Milwaukee against Tommy Byrnes. After a pitch in the dirt, Jones sprints for first base. Home-plate ump Augie Donatelli calls him back, saying he was not hit by the pitch. Jones asks for the ball and shows the ump the shoe-polish stain. Eddie Mathews hits a two-run homer with one man out and win the game for the eventual world champions.
-1970 Game 1, Orioles at Reds. With one out and runners at the corners in the sixth inning of a 3-3 game, Ty Cline hits an infield chopper in front of home plate. Ellie Hendricks grabs the ball and turns to tag Bernie Carbo but instead collides with umpire Ken Burkhart. Knocked to the ground, Burkhart calls Carbo out.
But replays showed Hendricks tagged the runner with an empty glove - while holding the ball in his bare hand. The Orioles won, 4-3, and later won the Series.
-1975 Game 3, Red Sox at Reds. Ed Armbrister drops a sacrifice bunt in the bottom of the 10th, then hesitates while determining if the ball is fair. As he heads for first, he collides with catcher Carlton Fisk, who rushed to grab the ball. Fisk uncorks a wild throw to second, putting runners on second and third and setting up the winning rally. Plate umpire Larry Barnett refuses to call interference against Armbrister and the Reds take the World Series in seven games.
-1985 Game 6, Cardinals at Royals. With the Cardinals needing just three outs to clinch the Series, Don Denkinger ruled that Kansas City's Jorge Orta beat Jack Clark's toss to pitcher Todd Worrell, covering first. That sparked a Royals rally and a 2-1 win that sent the Series into a Game 7 showdown. Kaycee won that one, 11-0.
-1991 Game 2, Braves at Twins. With one on and two out in the third, Ron Gant singles but is tagged out as he returns to first after rounding the bag. First baseman Kent Hrbek "lifts" Gant off the base as he applies the tag but umpire Drew Coble calls the runner out, saying "momentum" took him off the base. The Twins win, 3-2, and eventually win a seven-game World Series.
UMPS STRIKE OUT
Calls that umpires botched in the 2005 postseason:
- ALCS Game 2, Angels at White Sox. With the score 1-1, two outs, and the bases empty in the bottom of the ninth, A.J. Pierzynski takes a called strike three. But home-plate umpire Doug Eddings decides the ball bounced in the dirt before Josh Paul caught it - making it necessary for the catcher to complete the putout by throwing to first base. Because Eddings fails to signal his ruling, Pierzynski reaches first safely. Pinch-runner Pable Ozuna then scores the winning run on Joe Crede's double.
- ALCS, Game 4, White Sox at Angels. Nursing a 3-1 lead in the last of the second,
the Sox get Steve Finley to hit a double-play grounder. As he runs, Finley tells home-plate ump Ron Kulpa that his bat hit Pierzynski's mitt. After the game, an 8-2 Sox win, the catcher admits Finley was right and interference should have been called.
- World Series, Game 2, Astros at White Sox. With two outs, two men on, and Houston ahead 4-2 in the home seventh, umpire Jeff Nelson waves Jermaine Dye to first base after an inside pitch from Dan Wheeler. The ball did strike something, but it was the bat instead of the player. The ump didn't see it, setting the stage for Paul Konerko's grand-slam. Chicago won, 7-6.