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Discussion: Two Umpires make opposite call on same play

Posted Discussion
Oct. 14, 2019
DirkPitt
7 posts
Two Umpires make opposite call on same play
Bases loaded, two outs, tie game in extra innings (top of inning). Batter hits fly ball to center field. Center fielder charges the ball hard and according to the base umpire short-hops the ball (called & signaled no-catch although he didn't yell it out too loudly). Home plate umpire calls catch and does yell a bit louder and then literally calls time-out thinking the game is over. Runner on second and third score, batter runner stops at first and runner on first base advances one base. At the point the home plate umpire called time the runner on 2nd base had not yet scored (although he was past 3rd base).

Team in field argue that they "reacted" to the home plate umpire's call and all runners should only advance one base (runner on second who scored goes back to third base). Team at-bat argued that the runner on 2nd scored on the play and was already past third and running towards home when time was called.

Nobody disputed the home plate umpire made a mistake and it was not his call (catch/no-catch) and should not have called time.

I can't find a comparable example in the NFHS book or in any other rule books on this play. One could argue that both teams were put at a disadvantage based on the conflicting calls.

Ultimately, they ruled no-catch but sent the runner who started on 2nd back to 3rd and took the run off the board effectively rewarding the team in the field for the erroneous call. What is the correct call and where in the rule book is this situation called out?
Oct. 14, 2019
TimMcElroy
674 posts
You won't find a section of the rule book dedicated to "When umpires completely screw up"

This is a great example of why umpires should get together before the game to discuss responsibilities and expectations of one another when this or that happens.
Oct. 14, 2019
OZ40
529 posts
It's always good to talk to your partner before the game. Whenever we used to do a 2 umpire format the base umpire always went out to make the call in the outfield and the home plate umpire picked his men up on the bases.
Oct. 14, 2019
stick8
1777 posts
You likely will not find this situation addressed in any association rule book. You might however find it in a case book.
As far as the call I would have expected the base ump to go out with his right arm up signaling he’s got the call and the plate ump has anything that occurs in the infield after the catch or trap. It sounds like the 2 umpires to got together and discussed the situation which is good. They might ask if the other is 100% sure of the call. Based on the described scenario, the plate ump admitted his error so the call by the base umpire should stand and the result of the play as it would have happened in their judgement if the home umpire did the proper thing and not make any call.
The Home plate umpire will have eat his call and expect any abuse he’ll likely get (short of cussing, etc) Sometimes it happens, even to the best umpires.
Umpires should never, ever overrule their partner in the middle of a play. After the play is over can certainly ask an umpire to ask for help from his partner and you might get a call changed. And you might not.
What’s puzzling is why the plate ump would call time. Didn’t he know it would have been the third out and game over?
Weird to me
Oct. 14, 2019
B.J.
697 posts
Exactly what Tim said..

there is no excuse for this to happen.. I personally don't like for the base umpire to go out and call catches.. especially with multiple runners on base.. it is the base umpires job to move inside the baseline when the ball is hit to the OF and get set up and watch for tag ups..

"UNLESS" it was determined to be that way between the 2 umps in pre-game talk
Oct. 14, 2019
stick8
1777 posts
BJ I agree with you on moving inside the baseline to watch for tags on a routine fly ball. I wont go out on all catches but with this scenario the outfielder was charging or may well dive in wanting to make a shoestring type catch. I’m going out a few steps with my right arm up (that signals to my partner that he’s got the infield) to get a better look at it. Years ago I would blurt out “one man” but I got out of that habit when I started with USSSA. That’s the old ASA technique which is how I learned.
Definitely agree about pre game but sometimes this type of thing happens even if you go over everything in pre-game.
Oct. 15, 2019
STL0
Men's 55
195 posts
Stick - If the umpire called time during the middle of the play, wouldn't that override what you believed might happen if you hadn't called time. I don't think you can award the second run after he called time. I agree that common sense tells you the run would score but I don't think anything can happen after time is called. Having said that, it's crazy that the umpire actually called time.
Oct. 16, 2019
stick8
1777 posts
Good question STL0. The answer is yes. See below.
The home plate umpire is considered the “UIC” of the diamond.
We can all agree about umpires pre game talk, knowing who’s got what and doing due diligence but what to do in this situation is just as important as the pre game.
As the play was described, it sounds as if everyone agreed the home plate umpire totally botched it. I still maintain you go with what would have been the result of the play in the umpires judgement. The runner who started at second could have been sent back to third as well as being awarded home.
But this would be up to the home plate umpire—as stated above he’s the UIC of the diamond.
Either way the home plate umpire has to eat that call and has some serious ‘splainin to do.

Oct. 17, 2019
Jay Cas
6 posts
From a umpire standpoint, I must first say that the homeplate umpire did not screw this up. Generally the home plate umpire especially in NSA makes the call on all catches unless the base umpire turns his back to the infield and in that case it becomes his call. I am not sure about the Senior Softball rulebook because I can't find the case book under a two or three man umpire system. It depends on the governing body. I umpire NSA and ASA (USA) Softball.
Both umpires should have got together and made the correct decision and explained to the coaches who made the call and who should have made the call. Either way a team was going to be disappointed. Coaches and players forget one thing, you can always appeal the play by paying $75 and interpretation of the rule.
Oct. 21, 2019
Wayne 37
Men's 65
703 posts
Some interesting points here. My suggestion would be at the very least have some printouts of umpire mechanics and their responsibilities.

Umpires getting together and pre-gaming such is a good idea. However, makes it hard to do when the second umpire comes bouncing up to the game right before it starts, shirt tail hanging out talking on their cell phone.

If base umpire is out or in, I feel they should stay out and have the catch/no catch. If they come running in their back will be turned to the play. If they come running in with their back to the infield it is easy to trip and fall and not see anything at all. Plate umpire should have tags. If you're out, stay out. With only two men you just can't see everything.

Perhaps plate umpire should have should have called ball game instead of time, but it doesn't matter in the long run.

I feel under the circumstances, the fixed it in about the only way they could. Just because runner had rounded third, that was the last legally base they had acquired.

It happens.
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