Friday, May 31, 2019

20-Year Replay Rewind - Pulli's 1999 HR Review

20 years ago today, on May 31, 1999, baseball used Replay Review on a home run call for the first time in MLB history, courtesy NL Umpire Frank Pulli, who consulted a dugout camera to view video of a Cliff Floyd fly ball, overturning 2B Umpire Greg Gibson's HR call to a double,* having ruled that Floyd's towering drive struck below a painted yellow line (or where one would have been located) at Florida's Pro Player Stadium.

Frank Pulli makes history. PHOTO: Reuters.
The Play: With two out and one on (R2), Floyd hit a fly ball to deep left-center field, originally ruled a double by Greg Gibson, the second base umpire, motioning to both dugouts that the ball had hit the left field scoreboard that separated the portion of the wall that was in play from that which was out of play.

Replay Review's First Customer: After crew consultation with HP Umpire Greg Bonin, 1B Umpire Ed Rapuano, U2 Gibson & U3 Pulli, the crew changed Gibson's original ruling and deemed the play a home run, bringing out Cardinals Manager Tony LaRussa for an argument, upon which Crew Chief Pulli found a broadcast camera adjacent to Florida's dugout and viewed a replay of the fly ball on the camera's monitor, determining that the ball had indeed struck below the boundary line, just as Gibson had initially judged.

*Pursuant to UEFL Rule 6-2-b-7, "Quality of Correctness for an ejection that occurs after umpire consultation or instant replay review, wherein the initial call was changed during or after consultation/review, shall be adjudged by the correctness of the call after consultation/review." As such, the post-umpire consultation/pre-replay ruling of HR was overturned via Replay Review.

After Review: Pulli overturned the HR call to a double, awarding baserunner R2 Alex Gonzalez home plate, and bringing out Marlins Interim Manager Fredi Gonzalez, whose argument that replays were not permitted resulted in a decision to protest the game.

Frank Pulli checks the footage. PHOTO: AP.
Said Pulli at the time, "I sure don't want to make a habit of it, but at that moment, I thought it was the proper thing to do." Added Floyd after his home run was overturned to a double, "He did end up making the right call with the help of the cameraman. I was hoping maybe I'd get a cheap one."

NL Denies Protest: Despite St. Louis winning the game 5-2 (instead of scoring on a HR, Floyd was stranded on third base), National League President Len Coleman denied Florida's protest, while admonishing Pulli and directing umpires not to consult video instant replay in the future, a directive that would hold until 2008, when MLB adopted limited instant replay exclusively for reviews on HR/not HR calls.

SIDEBAR: Coleman resigned in 1999 over the issue of—you guessed it—MLB Commissioner Bud Selig's attempt to switch control of the major league umpires from the AL and NL offices to the centralized MLB office and Executive Vice President Sandy Alderson, who himself had no officiating experience. See the following post for a video history regarding this dispute.
Related PostVideo - Truth About Baseball's Electronic Strike Zone (5/30/19).

Pulli passed away on August 28, 2013, at the age of 78 due to complications from Parkinson's disease, yet Ish's 30+ years in professional baseball, aside from his four World Series, six National League Championship Series, four Division Series, and two All-Star Games, may be best remembered for his unintentional introduction of Replay Review into the major leagues in May of 1999.
Related PostIn Memoriam: Remembering NL Umpire Frank Pulli (8/30/13).


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