|Brian O'Nora Bleeds from a Broken Bat Injury / Photo: AP|
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
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).