View Full Version : Which call was worse?

4th and Long
10-13-2005, 05:07 PM
In the history of blown calls by umnpires during post season play, which of these umpires made the king of boneheaded calls?

Poll forthcoming.

10-13-2005, 05:40 PM
Neither call was boneheaded. Don Denkinger missed the call, but it is somewhat understandable how he did:


Denkinger ran toward first base because that's what his instinct told him to do. He had called thousands of slow rollers toward first. He knew this almost always ends as a race between pitcher and runner. You want to get close to the bag so you can see which foot hits the bag first. But something odd happened. The ball bounced funny. St. Louis' first baseman Jack Clark had trouble getting it out of his glove. By the time he threw the ball, Worrell was already on the bag. There was no race. “Oh no,” Denkinger would remember thinking, “I'm too close.”



Clark's throw was high and wide, which made Denkinger's job tough. He could not see everything he needed to see. He made an instantaneous decision to follow the ball, make sure Worrell caught it. And then, the instant he caught it, Denkinger looked down to see whose foot reached the bag first. He thought it was Orta's. He was not sure that Worrell's foot was even on the bag. He made his call with authority like he had been taught at the Al Somers School. “SAFE!”


Replays showed Jorge Orta was out, of course.

As for the call yesterday, it is disputable whether the umpire even missed the call in the first place. Whether he did or didn't, the obvious and only blame for that play is on the Angels' catcher, who could and should have made sure that a put-out had been called by the umpire.

I voted for Denkinger's call, as it clearly had victims and those victims had no recourse but to proceed to get their asses handed to them for the remainder of that glorious Series.

10-13-2005, 05:45 PM
I have heard some good points today supporting the call last night. I can see why it is contreversial but it kinda reminds me of the famous Tuck rule game. It's a rule that is just seldom enforced that if the umpire doesnt actually say yer out, well then your not actually out. The fact of the matter is it was close and the catcher should have known he didnt hear the ump call him out and as such should have taged Pierzynski. So, I voted for the Denkinger call.....but I'll take it :)

10-13-2005, 05:46 PM
The call last night was pretty close. The bigger blunder as you stated was the idiot catcher not making SURE the out was recorded.

10-13-2005, 05:46 PM
Nice reply Dan.

I went with Denkinger, as well. There is more grey area with yesterday's call. In '85, Orta was clearly out.

10-13-2005, 06:07 PM
Denkinger (what else) World series game.

Yesterday. Catcher No call. Tag runner.

Starts to run. You just step up and throw.

First baseman. Batter/runner is running to first......

Who covers the base.

Looked like grade school.

10-13-2005, 06:29 PM

75 WS. Ed Armbrister at the plate in the 10th inning 30 years ago tomorrow!!!

He lays down a sac bunt, crosses home plate on his way to first, then ...just stops!! Fisk, who has leaped out from behind the plate to snare the ball becomes entangled with Armbrister. Fisk throws to 2nd for the force but the ball sails into CF.

The Reds score the winning run later and the Bosox have a fit.

10-13-2005, 06:45 PM

75 WS. Ed Armbrister at the plate in the 10th inning 30 years ago tomorrow!!!

He lays down a sac bunt, crosses home plate on his way to first, then ...just stops!! Fisk, who has leaped out from behind the plate to snare the ball becomes entangled with Armbrister. Fisk throws to 2nd for the force but the ball sails into CF.

The Reds score the winning run later and the Bosox have a fit.


1975 World Series: Game 3

Fisk, Armbrister go 'bump' in night

Oct.14, 1975, at Riverfront Stadium, Cincinnati.

This one began as a “catcher's duel.” Carlton Fisk of the Red Sox opened the scoring with a solo home run off Gary Nolan, and the Reds' Johnny Bench responded with a two-run blast off Rick Wise in the fourth.

The Reds were leading 5-2 in the seventh when former Red Bernie Carbo pinch-hit a HR off Clay Carroll. Dwight Evans hit a two-run HR off Reds closer Rawly Eastwick in the top of the ninth to tie it 5-5.

After Cesar Geronimo singled in the bottom of the 10th, Reds manager Sparky Anderson sent Ed Armbrister up to pinch-hit. He bunted a high-bounding ball into the dirt in front of home plate.

Armbrister hesitated for a split-second before running, which caused a simultaneous bump between him and Fisk, who had flipped off his mask and lunged forward to grab the ball. Fisk then took another step forward to clear himself of Armbrister, then threw to second base, trying to force out Geronimo. The throw sailed into center field.

Instead of getting a double play, the Red Sox faced runners on second and third with nobody out. Despite a heated protest by the Sox — they argued that Armbrister interfered with Fisk — the umpires ruled in favor of the Reds.

Three batters later, the Reds won when Joe Morgan hit a long fly ball over the head of drawn-in center fielder Fred Lynn.

What if the umpire's no-interference call on Armbrister had gone the other way?

“I'd have gone insane,” Anderson said.
— John Erardi

How's that interference? The answer, of course, is that, what Armbrister did was not, but what Fisk did was. Throwing the ball wildly into centerfield interferes with your team's chance of winning. ;)


Of course, Barnett said the 1975 World Series was also unforgettable. As the plate umpire for a face-off between the Reds and Red Sox in Boston, Barnett made one of the most famous rulings in the history of the Fall Classic. Ed Armbrister of the Reds laid down a sacrifice bunt in fair territory, just in front of home plate, and took off for first base. Simultaneously, Carlton Fisk, the Boston catcher, went after the ball. There was considerable contact between the opposing players, and Barnett made a “safe” signal, indicating that neither player had committed an infraction. After Armbrister and Fisk untangled, Fisk grabbed the ball and threw wildly past second base trying to get the force out. The runners ended up safely on third and second. Fisk and the entire Boston crowd went mad, insisting Armbrister was guilty of interfering with Fisk’s fielding attempt.

“What a lot of people don’t know about that situation,” said Barnett, “is that Jim Evans had the same play in August or September of that same year. Cleveland officially protested the game, as Boston wanted to, but the League President, Lee MacPhail, ruled against them.” Barnett was actually backed up by the rules, though by written rules not available to the general public. The ruling for the play was hidden in the American League rule interpretation manual, provided only to umpires and their supervisors. Someone referring to the Official Baseball Rules might have assumed interference should have been called. Umpires, however, were quite familiar with the ruling, calling it a “tangle, untangle.” As long as neither player intended to interfere with the other, the runner was allowed to begin his advance to first and the catcher was allowed to go after the ball. Barnett had been 100% correct in his ruling.

“Of course, all of that means little to a raving fan,” Barnett added. “I have a whole scrapbook of death threats from that situation. It was hard on me, hard on my family. When you have 82 million people after you it can get a little scary. But I have nothing against the people of Boston. It is a great city and they are great fans.”

10-13-2005, 06:59 PM
Here's some more on the Fisk-Armbrister incident, an excerpt from an informative review of the game by Cooperstown Confidential's Bruce Markusen.


Geronimo then led off the bottom of the 10th by smashing a single to the right of Doyle’s backhand stab at second base. During Geronimo’s at-bat, veteran left-handed hitter Terry Crowley had waited his turn in the on-deck circle as the pinch-hitter for Rawly Eastwick. If Geronimo had been retired, Sparky Anderson planned to allow Crowley to bat. But no longer. Sparky now wanted to employ a sacrifice bunt. He could allow Eastwick to bat for himself and attempt the sacrifice. Or he could call upon a more experienced handler of the bat from his bench and ask him to lay down the critical bunt.

Not wanting to take chances with a novice batsman like Eastwick, Anderson selected the latter option. He called upon backup outfielder Ed Armbrister, a mere .185 hitter during the regular season but an acceptable bunter. Armbrister’s job was simple: move Geronimo to second base and allow the formidable top of Cincinnati’s order to drive home the winning run.

Squaring himself into bunting position, Armbrister nubbed the ball in front of the plate. Perhaps not realizing that he had hit the ball into fair territory, Armbrister hesitated before breaking toward first. Just as he started running, Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk stepped over home plate in an effort to field the bouncing bunt. Fisk and Armbrister collided, delaying the catcher’s pursuit of the ball. Once Fisk picked up the ball, he extricated himself from Armbrister with a sturdy glove-hand shove, set himself quickly, and hurtled a throw toward second base. The ball sailed high and to the right of Rick Burleson’s fully extended arm, tipping off the edge of the shortstop’s glove and carrying into center field. Fred Lynn retrieved the ball and unfurled a strong throw to third, but Geronimo slid into third just before Rico Petrocelli’s quick tag made contact with his body. Armbrister, in spite of his late start from the plate and his momentary tangle with Fisk, settled in at second base.

Vaulting themselves from their seats in the dugout, Red Sox players and coaches screamed for an interference call on Armbrister. Fisk joined his teammates in pleading with home plate umpire Larry Barnett. “He bunted the ball, it shot right up in the air, he stood there. I had to go up for a rebound over him to get the ball, he stood right there,” Fisk explained to Murray Chass of the New York Times. “He’s got to get out of my way. If he stays in the [batter’s] box, there’s no argument. But he’s in fair territory, in front of the plate… Why can’t there be [interference called]? You might as well throw a body block at the catcher, then run to first.”

In watching the play develop from the opposing dugout, Johnny Bench believed that Fisk might have anticipated the call of interference as he fielded the ball. “At that particular instant, I think [Carlton] thought about the [possibility of] interference,” Bench recalls. “I think more than anything, rather than reacting to the play—because Ed was still standing at home plate and [Carlton] had all the time in the world to throw it to second—and I think that for that split-second, he thought about interference. He was waiting for the call. He could make that play 990 times out of a thousand if you gave him that chance.” Instant replays showed that once Fisk had pushed Armbrister aside, there was enough separation between the two of them to allow the catcher to set himself and make a strong throw. Fisk made a strong throw, but not an accurate one.

Fisk also had a chance to tag Armbrister on the play and then make the throw to second base in an effort to complete a double play. “When I did shove [Armbrister] aside, he stopped,” Fisk explained to Lowell Reidenbaugh of The Sporting News, “and maybe I tagged him out, I don’t know.” Television replays showed that Fisk had tagged Armbrister all right, but with his empty glove hand, and not with his bare hand, which cradled the baseball.

If Fisk had tagged Armbrister properly, Geronimo still would have been allowed to advance to third, with only man out; that would have remained a tough situation for Boston. A call of interference by Barnett would have provided the Red Sox with a far better scenario: Armbrister would have been called out for obstructing Fisk—and Geronimo would have been ordered to return to first base.

Not surprisingly, Armbrister saw things far differently from Fisk and the Red Sox. “After I bunted,” Armbrister told the New York Times, “ I kind of watched it for just a second. As it took a high bounce, I think [Fisk] came from behind me. He reached out and hit me on the leg. He interfered with me.”

Yet, Barnett didn’t see any legitimate cause for calling interference on Fisk—or, more significantly, on Armbrister. “When the ball was hit,” Barnett explained after the game, “I yelled ‘Fair, fair, in play!’ Armbrister did nothing intentional to interfere with Fisk.”

The question of Armbrister’s “intent” was apparently not raised by Barnett during his on-field argument with Johnson, but became a burning issue after the game. “It is only interference when the batter intentionally gets in the way of the fielder,” Barnett told Ron Fimrite of Sports Illustrated—after the game. A referral to one of the sections in the Official Baseball Rules seemed to support Barnett’s rationale. According to subsection H of Rule 7.09, says interference should be called “if, in the judgment of the umpire, a batter-runner willfully and deliberately interferes with a batted ball or a fielder in the act of fielding a batted ball, with the obvious intent to break up a double play.” The rule stipulated that if the umpire deemed such interference intentional, then a double play should be called.

Yet, some members of the media questioned whether Rule No. 7.09 (H) should really be applied to a situation like the one involving Armbrister and Fisk. As legendary sportswriter Red Smith aptly noted in the October 15th edition of the New York Times, that particular rule had been put in place several years earlier as a specific response to a trick play used by Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers. On more than one occasion, Robinson had intentionally allowed batted balls to hit him between first and second base. Although the existing rules of the day obligated umpires to call Robinson out for obvious interference, the fielding team no longer had the chance to turn a double play. Since Robinson’s ploy created an unfair advantage for the offense, a new rule was created.

Therefore, perhaps Rule No. 7.09 didn’t apply to a collision between a catcher and a batter, at all. Some members of the media felt that Rule No. 6.06, which made specific mention of the catcher, should become the reference point for Armbrister-Fisk. According to that rule, a batter should be called out if he “interferes with the catcher’s fielding or throwing by stepping out of the batter’s box or making any other movement that hinders the catcher’s play at home base.” The rule contained no stipulation that interference on the part of the batter had to be “intentional.” And while Armbrister had not stepped out of the batter’s box in making contact with Fisk, he had certainly “hindered” the catcher in both fielding the ball and making the throw. Based on the interpretation of this rule, it seemed that Barnett had erred in making the call.

Yet, in reality, the umpires weren’t being governed by either of the two conflicting rules in question. “It was merely a collision,” Barnett told reporters in explaining the nature of the contact between Armbrister and Fisk. Merely a collision. That was the key word in Barnett’s dictionary. According to a supplemental instructional rules book given only to major league umpires and not made available publicly—a book that helped them interpret vague or confusing rules and situations—a collision between the catcher and batter on a batted ball was to be treated as incidental to the play. “When a catcher and batter-runner going to first base have contact when the catcher is fielding the ball,” the supplemental instruction stated, “there is generally no violation and nothing should be called.”

“The instructions specifically cover this play,” said George Maloney, the second base umpire in Game Three, as part of a revealing interview with the Louisville Times. “[The instructions] clearly state that no call will be made involving contact between a batter and a catcher. They are saying, in essence, that both have rights: the catcher to field the ball, the runner to advance to first. It is to be treated as a collision—nothing else.”

An appeal of the call to first base umpire Dick Stello produced only additional support for Barnett’s call—and for Maloney’s explanation. “The batter,” explained Stello, “has as much right to go to first base as the fielder has to go for the ball.” End of argument. Or at least the umpires hoped so.

With Stello and Barnett holding firm on their decision, the call stood on its original platform: no one out for interference, and runners at second at third. As Sparky Anderson, in conversation with Sports Illustrated, would so aptly summarize the controversial soap opera involving Armbrister, Fisk, Barnett, and Stello: “The guys in the bars will be talking about that play until spring training.” And then some.

10-13-2005, 07:06 PM
The blown up pictures of the "drop" that FOX was showing tonight I thought made it more inconclusive than I originally thought. Of course FOX was playing it up like he missed the call, but I don't know, I thought it kinda looked like the ball went "up" in the last frame where it's in his mitt. I can see what the umpire was saying when he said it changed direction. FOX showed it frame by frame, and there are 30 frames a second for television, so you don't actually see the entire flight of the ball. The ball looked like it went "up" from where it was in the 2nd to last frame they showed... up into his mitt possibly. It's impossible to tell though.

10-13-2005, 07:35 PM
Here's the L.A. Times's account of the ending of the game last night. The Angels case is weak. Sciosia ought to complain about the lack of coaching the Angels' catcher received from the former big-league catcher managing that club. Ain't no justification for a big-league catcher imagining that he's an umpire empowered to decide whether a catch had or had not been made.


Angels Lose Game in Bizarre Ending
By Tim Brown, Times Staff Writer

CHICAGO — The Angels lost to the White Sox on Wednesday night after a bitterly contested ruling by the umpires that kept the ninth inning alive and gave Chicago a chance to score the winning run — which it promptly did.

It was tied 1-1 in the ninth. There were two outs and two strikes on the batter, Chicago's A.J. Pierzynski.

Then came the fatal pitch. It was low.

Angel catcher Josh Paul reached and caught it — or did he trap it against the dirt? Home plate umpire Doug Eddings waved his right hand and then clenched it, two gestures, he said later, that indicated a swinging strike. But he never called the batter out.

Paul, thinking the inning was over, rolled the ball to the mound and the Angels started to leave the field. But Pierzynski, realizing he hadn't been called out, sprinted to first — and was called safe.

Now the Angels erupted in protest. But the umpires refused to call Pierzynski out, and three pitches later, Joe Crede doubled home pinch-runner Pablo Ozuna from second base and the White Sox won, 2-1, to even the best-of-seven American League championship series at one game apiece.

Eddings later said that Paul had trapped Kelvim Escobar's pitch, a split-fingered fastball that became a swinging strike three to Pierzynski.

In that case, the out had to be recorded by tagging Pierzynski or throwing to first base. Paul instead underhanded the ball toward the mound. Pierzynski, sensing Eddings' hesitance, dashed to first after taking a couple of steps toward his own dugout.

"I didn't hear him call me out, so I thought — I thought for sure the ball hit the ground," said Pierzynski, a catcher himself. "I watched the replay 50 times and I still don't know."

Angel Manager Mike Scioscia argued that Paul caught the ball before it hit the ground, that Eddings called Pierzynski out, "and somewhere along the line, because the guy ran to first base, he altered the call. When an umpire calls a guy out and you're the catcher, and I've caught my share of them, he's out. He didn't call 'swing,' he rang him up with his fist and said, 'You're out.' "

Eddings said he called no such thing. He said he believed the ball was live, even after the two motions he made with his right arm.

Scioscia's on-field debate centered on Paul making the catch, and also on Eddings' gestures, which many interpreted as calling the third out. It was that call that caused the Angels to abandon their positions and Paul to relinquish the ball.

"My interpretation is that's my 'strike three' mechanic when it's a swinging strike," Eddings said. "If you watch, that's what I do the whole entire game."

While many Angels viewed the replay and concluded that Paul had wrapped the webbing of his mitt beneath the ball, and Pierzynski, for one, concluded there was no conclusion to be had, Eddings, his crew, and umpire supervisor Rich Rieker agreed that Paul had trapped it.

Using what Rieker called "some technology," the six-man umpiring crew viewed the replay and determined the ball had actually hit the dirt.

"We saw a couple different angles," Eddings said, "and if you watch it, the ball changes direction."

It is possible the ball ricocheted from the end of Paul's mitt into the pocket, but replays appeared to show a clean catch.

"I caught the ball," Paul said. "It was strike three. He was out…. It's not my fault. I take no responsibility for that whatsoever."

After his initial argument, Scioscia left the field, then returned after learning of the replay.

He appealed the call to third-base umpire Ed Rapuano, who would have had the best view of the pitch to the left-handed Pierzynski. After a short consultation with Rapuano, Eddings pointed to the ground, meaning they agreed, the ball had been trapped.

As the Angels fumed in their clubhouse, Eddings sat beside Rieker and crew chief Jerry Crawford in an interview room across the hall.

"At this point," Rieker said, "I would say at best it's inconclusive. I wouldn't totally agree that the ball was caught, but there was a change in direction there that we saw and the replay is available to us."

Typically, when a catcher believes a strike-three pitch may or may not have bounced before he catches it, he instinctively will tag the runner.

"That's why I was pretty shocked at what took place, and that was what I was kind of talking to Scioscia about," Eddings said. "Josh Paul, like you said, especially if you guys have seen the replay, it was questionable."

Added Rieker: "And since Doug did not say that the batter was out, play continues, and that ball is alive."

Eddings said of his third-strike routine — the sweep of his right hand, then the clenched fist — "It's never been an issue until now."


Strike three

Baseball's rules on a third strike:

Rule 6.05 (b)

A batter is out when a third strike is legally caught by the catcher; "Legally caught" means in the catcher's glove before the ball touches the ground….

Rule 6.09 (b)

The batter becomes a runner when the third strike called by the umpire is not caught, providing (1) first base is unoccupied, or (2) first base is occupied with two out; When a batter becomes a base runner on a third strike not caught by the catcher and starts for the dugout, or his position, and then realizes his situation and attempts then to reach first base, he is not out unless he or first base is tagged before he reaches first base….

Source: MLB.com

10-17-2005, 07:02 PM
Interference or no, Armbrister stopped outside the batter's box and caused Fisk to have to go through him to get the ball.

IMHO, it was interference.

But I ain't an ump. Back then I was just a kid who wanted the American league to win.