Saturday, October 13, 2018

Cowboy Joe West's History of Getting Hit by Baseballs

When Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez's errant throw struck 2B Umpire Joe West during Saturday's ALCS Game 1 in Boston, the former Elon College football QB took it like a champ, which isn't the first time baseball's Blue Cowboy has literally become part of the game.

The Play: With one out and one on (R1), as Astros baserunner R1 Jake Marisnick attempted to steal second base, Red Sox catcher Vazquez's throw intended for second baseman Brock Holt sailed wide and directly toward West, who was positioned in umpiring's "Deep B" within the infield, the throw striking West in the upper left chest as he sheepishly moved to avoid it.

Rule & Precedent: First off, we know this isn't umpire interference or anything of that nature.

During the 2017 World Series featuring these same Astros, 2B Umpire Laz Diaz was hit by an inaccurate Houston pickoff throw at Dodger Stadium, effectively serving to keep Dodgers baserunner Enrique Hernandez at second base. As we analyzed back then, this does not qualify as umpire interference pursuant to Official Baseball Rules 6.01(f) and 5.06(c)(2) and the ball remains alive and in play.
Related PostLeaping Laz - Pickoff Throw at Second Base Hits Umpire (10/26/17).

Joe West as Magnet: Cowboy Joe has an odd tendency toward getting involved with the game, but not in the negative "inject himself into the game" way that many commentators accuse him of.

Instead, West's involvement has to do with getting hit by baseballs or players trying to make plays. For instance, during the so-called "crew chief series" in 2014 (so named because it featured West, Jerry Layne, and Fieldin Culbreth, along with Culbreth's regular season crewmate, Manny Gonzalez...West (President), Culbreth (Vice President), and Layne (Secretary-Treasurer) served on the World Umpires Association's executive board at the time), West was struck by a foul ball at Citi Field and had a similar reaction as he did Saturday in Boston: no real reaction, not much of a flinch—ho hum...though he did flex his muscles to show his toughness and durability.
Related PostNon-Injury: Joe West Struck by Ball in Crew Chief Series

And here's Mark Texeira using West as a wall to push off of during a play in Houston from 2015.
Related VideoNYY@HOU: Tex bounces off umpire West, secures footing (6/28/15).

And the much less humorous instance of a fan throwing a ball at West in Milwaukee. This criminal act launched a police investigation with FOX6 reporting that police were closing in on the person(s) responsible for hitting West with a baseball at Miller Mark.
Related PostAssault - Joe West Hit in Head by Ball Thrown From Stands (6/30/17).

Visit our 5,000 games tribute to West to scout more instances of West's "involvement" with games.
Related VideoUmpire Joe West - 5,000 Games Tribute - Close Call Sports (6/20/17).

Video as follows:
Alternate Link: Joe West can't avoid bad throw during Game 1 of Houston-Boston ALCS (TBS)


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