The Umpire Was Blind!

Controversial Calls by MLB’s Men in Blue

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About the Book

In the words of former American League umpire Nestor Chylak, umpires are expected to “be perfect on the first day of the season and then get better every day.” Forced to deal with sullen managers and explosive players, they often take the blame for the failures of both. But let’s face it—umpires are only human.
For well over a century, the fortunes of Major League teams—and the fabric of baseball history itself—have been dramatically affected by the flawed decisions of officials. While the use of video replay in recent decades has reduced the number of bitter disputes, many situations remain exempt from review and are subject to swirling controversy. In the heat of the moment mistakes are often made, sometimes with monumental consequences. This book details some of these more controversial calls and the men who made them.

About the Author(s)

Jonathan Weeks has authored several sports biographies and two novels. He lives in Malone, New York.

Bibliographic Details

Jonathan Weeks
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 214
Bibliographic Info: 12 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8032-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3921-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Introduction. The Devil We Know: A Very Brief History of Umpiring 3
Part One. The Umpire Giveth, the Umpire Taketh Away:
Streaks and Records Helped or Hindered by Umpires 9
• Johnny Vander Meer’s Consecutive ­No-Hitters 9
• Joe DiMaggio’s 56-Game Hitting Streak 13
• Don Larsen’s Perfect World Series Game 17
• Bob Shaw’s ­Balk-a-Thon 20
• Don Drysdale’s Consecutive Scoreless Innings Streak 23
• Orel Hershiser’s Consecutive Scoreless Innings Streak 27
• The 1998 Home Run Chase (Featuring Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa) 30
• Kerry Wood’s 20-Strikeout Performance 34
• Armando Galarraga’s ­Near-Perfect Game 37
• Max Scherzer’s ­Near-Perfect Game 40
Part Two. The Road to October: Critical Calls During
the Regular Season 43
• Bob Ferguson’s Campaign Against Gambling 43
• Tim Hurst and the Beer Glass Incident 45
• Soggy Games in Pittsburgh: Round 1 47
• Soggy Games in Pittsburgh: Round 2 50
• Fred Merkle’s Infamous Blunder 52
• Stuffy McInnis’s Gift Homer 59
• Germany Schaefer Steals First Base 61
• Bill Brennan Imposes His Iron Will 64
• The Indecision of Charles Johnston 67
• Red Jones’s Fourteen Ejections 70
• Two Balls in Play at Wrigley Field 72
• Don Money’s Nullified Grand Slam 74
• The Pine Tar Game 77
• Wild Card Tiebreaker Game 81
• Bill Hohn’s Fist Bump 84
• 19-Inning Marathon Ended by Jerry Meals’s Blown Call 86
Part Three. The Victors and the Spoils: Playoff Controversies 89
• The Jeffrey Maier Game 89
• Livan Hernandez’s 15-Strikeout Performance 92
• The 1998 ALCS Disaster 95
• 1999 ALCS: The Phantom Tag and Other Issues 98
• Pierzynski and the Uncaught Third Strike 101
• Midges Invade Jacob’s Field 104
• 2009 Playoffs: The Fall Guys 106
• 2010 Playoffs: Bad Calls in Multiple Rounds 111
• 2012 NL Wild Card Game: Improperly Invoked Infield Fly Rule 114
• 2015 ALCS Game 6: A Wet, Wild Finish in Kansas City 117
• 2016 NLCS Game 4: Angel Hernandez’s Blown Call at Home Plate 120
• 2017 NLDS Game 5: Nationals Lose on Account of Jerry Layne’s Mistakes 123
Part Four: Legends of the Fall: Infamous World Series
Debates 127
• 1885 World’s Championship Series: Umpire David Sullivan’s Hot Mess 127
• 1911 World Series Game 5: The Run That Shouldn’t Have
Counted 130
• 1925 World Series Game 3: Sam Rice’s Mystery Catch 135
• 1935 World Series Game 3: Moriarty Defies Landis with 3 Ejections 138
• 1948 World Series Game 1: Bill Stewart’s Blown Pickoff Call on Phil Masi 142
• 1955 World Series Game 1: Jackie Robinson Steals Home 145
• 1969 World Series Game 5: The Old Shoe Polish Trick 149
• 1970 World Series Game 1: Ken Burkhart’s Miraculous
­Behind-the-Back Call 152
• 1975 World Series Game 3: Armbrister Interferes with Fisk 155
• 1978 World Series Game 4: Reggie Jackson Interferes with Infield Throw 158
• 1985 World Series Game 6: Don Denkinger’s Blown Call at First Base 161
• 1998 World Series Game 1: Rich Garcia Gives Tino Martinez an Extra Pitch to Work With 164
• 2006 World Series Game 2: Kenny Rogers and the “Smudgegate” Affair 166
• 2011 World Series Games 3 and 7: Ron Kulpa and Jerry Layne Make a Mess of Things 170
• 2013 World Series Game 3: Cardinals Score ­Game-Winner
on Obstruction Call at Third Base 172
• 2017 World Series Game 5: Bill Miller’s Oddly Shaped Strike Zone 175
Notes 179
Bibliography 187
Index 197