Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Umpire Odds & Ends: Injuries, When an Ump Goes Down

Injuries: When an Umpire Goes Down: Injuries are an unfortunate reality of the sporting world. In baseball, players routinely hurt themselves overextending, diving, fallingslidingrunning, pitching, getting hit by pitches, throwsfair and foul balls, bats and even colliding with teammates, opponentswalls or umpires.

Brian O'Nora Bleeds from a Broken Bat Injury / Photo: AP
Yet on Tuesday, it was 1B Umpire Andy Fletcher who was hit by a foul ball, to the tune of necessitating medical treatment and evaluation very shortly after the unwanted contact. Coincidentally, Fletcher was hit by a foul off the bat of Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie, two games off of Lawrie's own suspension for hitting umpire Bill Miller with a spiked helmet during an argument over a called third strike.

Most umpire injuries are structurally benign—the umpire may be hurt, but like the true athlete (s)he is, the umpire stays in the game, as in the case of CB Bucknor's collarbone shot in Detroit last Friday. Bucknor had been injured and forced to leave a game early on May 1, when he exited a Pirates-Cardinals contest with an undisclosed injury.

In 2011, a slew of umpire injuries necessitated the hiring of several AAA fill-in umpires in early July: Mark Wegner injured his calf in May 2011 (replaced by Mike Muchlinski), Jim Joyce suffered a season-ending knee injury (replaced by John Tumpane), Hunter Wendelstedt suffered a head injury after he was hit in the mask by a foul bunt, Paul Schrieber missed several months with an undisclosed injury (replaced by Angel Campos [hit in collarbone by pitch in 2010]), Lance Barksdale missed over a month with an undisclosed injury (replaced by Alan Porter), as did Paul Nauert (Vic Carapazza) and Tim Tschida missed nearly half the season due to injury (Mike Estabrook) as did John Hirschbeck—unfortunately, when Hirschbeck returned, he received a rude welcome in the form of a foul ball strike to the groin. These were in addition to Todd Tichenor serving as a fill-in for Bill Hohn, on the Disabled List. Perhaps no umpiring injury was as severe, however, as Kerwin Danley taking a 96 mph fastball from Brad Penny to the jaw, losing conciousness and being taken off the field by ambulance.

In 2010, David Vincent published a research paper documenting historical umpire changes during a game, consulting data from Retrosheet in his work. The first documented umpire change occurred Aug. 11, 1871—when both umpires Frank Wolke and Mays were forced to leave in the second and eighth innings, respectively (Mays left in the eighth to play catcher and was replaced by Mort Dawson), while the first change due to injury occurred on May 5, 1885, when umpire John Valentine left with laryngitis in the fourth inning. Coincidentally, Valentine left for a second time that season on June 6, with another illness and was replaced by Ed West, who also replaced Terry Connell in Sept. 1885 during a AA affair.

The first National League umpiring change occurred on June 5, 1889, in similar fashion to Danley's Dodger Stadium injury—plate umpire Wes Curry was struck in the jaw by a foul ball in the fourth, completed the inning and was replaced behind the plate by Sam Wise as Bill George took over at first base. Indeed, umpire Hank O'Day's toe was broken by a foul ball in the sixth inning of an Aug. 31, 1901 contest between Chicago and Pittsburgh, yet O'Day persevered until a rain delay later that day, when he was replaced by George Yeager.

Jack Sheridan: The first and only professional umpire
arrested for an on-field incident / Photo: WikiMedia
The first American League umpiring change was rather embarrassing: On July 7, 1903, plate umpire Jack Sheridan was replaced by Monte Beville after Sheridan was arrested in the seventh inning for fighting with player Danny Green. Charges were later dropped and Sheridan was discharged the very next day. Though umpires like Bob Davidson, Brian Runge, Mike Winters and Bruce Froemming have been suspended before, no umpire has been arrested for an on-field incident since Sheridan's fight in 1903.

As for the postseason, Jerry Crawford left the 2003 NLCS after falling ill behind the plate in Game 4 of the Marlins-Cubs matchup, joining Frank Pulli (Eye problems, 1997) and John McSherry (Ill, 1992) as the only umpires to leave an NL postseason series. The AL version begins and ends with Derryl Cousins in Game 6 of the 2008 ALCS between the Red Sox and Rays, when the plate umpire left 1 1/2 innings after suffering a bruised clavicle. He was replaced behind the dish by crew chief Tim McClelland. No umpire has left a World Series due to injury.

From Conlan to Rigler, Evans to Owens, perhaps no umpire had such poor luck with injury as did Jerry Crawford, who left an MLB-record 11 ballgames due to injury (though to his credit, Crawford's head injury during the Devil Rays-Yankees game on 9/9/04 had him exit the game as HP Umpire in the second and return as 2B Umpire in the fifth. Matt Hollowell filled in behind the plate and Rob Drake moved to 1B).

17 comments :

UmpsRule said...

Just imagine if an umpire today got arrested!

Anonymous said...

Is there a video of the picture?

Anonymous said...

video of brian O'nora's injury I ment.

Gil Imber said...

Yes, the video link is part of the caption: O'Nora was replaced by Paul Nauert. Batter Miguel Olivo had been using a maple bat that snapped on contact; Olivo switched to ash bats for the remainder of the contest. Sure enough, O'Nora's crew chief for that contest was the most injured umpire of all time, Jerry Crawford.

Anonymous said...

Ed Hickox was hit in the grill of his face mask following a batted foul ball in the Braves/Reds game last night and was literally checked on by his crew and the Reds trainers through each half inning because it appeared Hickox looked like he was dizzy momentarily. Of course, he suffered a concussion a couple of years ago when a batted foul cracked his mask and then left the game a couple of innings later. He never left the game here last night, but apparently for precautions, he is not on the field tonight and is replaced by Mike Estabrook.

UmpsRule said...

Lloyd McClendon tossed by Jerry Meals.

Big Marc said...

Gil,

It may be true that he switched from maple to ash, but I just want to point out that has zero effect. The issue with the breaking of maple is no different than ash. It's the players wanting a certain weight. Well with wood the only way to do it is by using a billet with less density. Bing there's the problem. Jim Anderson submitted a 27 page document to MLB back in '09 telling them if they restict the current rules on the differential between length and weight, MLB could eliminate a substanstial number of breaks from the current totals. fyi...

Big Marc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Big Marc said...

with draw challenge......

Wanted to add....

Published: April 25, 1990

Bob Engel, a crew chief among National League umpires, was arrested over the weekend on a charge of stealing 4,180 baseball cards from a retail store in Bakersfield, Calif., authorities said.

Engel, 56 years old , was released on $5,000 bail from Kern County Jail on Saturday and is scheduled to be arraigned next Wednesday on misdemeanor counts of commercial burglary and petty theft, the police said Tuesday.

http://www.nytimes.com/1990/04/25/sports/sports-people-baseball-umpire-arrested.html

Anonymous said...

The Engel arrest happened when he was actually at the store, though right?

Turducken said...

Anybody notice Vic Carapazza hold back giggles the other night when Dale Scott took one to the groin?

Anonymous said...

Mike Dimuro has been missing since April 27. Mike Estabrook has replaced him since then. The reason Estabrook was able to fill in for Hickox is because Joyce's crew is off this week. Chad Farchild also missed time from April 11th until May 5th and was replaced by DJ Reyburn. Now Fairchild is missing again and being replaced by Cory Blaser. Obviously Hirschbeck and Dreckman have missed the whole season thus far.

Big Marc said...

Mr. Engel was arrested at the store. Sad story, but I did want to say Mr. Engel was a well above average umpire, he was a C.C. and worked 3,600 games. 3 World Series, 4 Allstar games, and 6 NLCS's in a 25 year career.
Umpires are human (gasp).

Anonymous said...

@turducken

You have a video link for that?

Turducken said...

http://deadspin.com/5912462/poor-ump-gets-hit-in-the-nuts-and-all-the-men-at-chase-field-cross-their-legs

Anonymous said...

Kerwin Danley just took a ball in the groin... MLB Video predictably described it as "a foul ball in the upper thigh" http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=21786471 Nicely done MLB online video.

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget the worst of all: John McSherry collapsing behind home plate in the 1st inning of opening day 1996 in Cincinnati. He was declared dead at the hospital an hour later.

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