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Umpires and the situations they encounter

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Watching Baseball Smarter book HIT BY A PITCH?
If a pitch merely grazes a thread dangling off the hitter's jersey, it counts as a hit by pitch. But if the ump doesn't see it, there's no way to prove it happened.

If, however, the hitter gets nicked on the foot and doesn't get the call, he's not necessarily out of luck. In Game 5 of the 1969 World Series, Cleon Jones got hit by Orioles left-hander Mike Cuellar and was denied first base—until Mets manager Gil Hodges retrieved the ball and showed the ump that it had a shoe-polish smudge.

Because there's no delay-of-game penalty for a conference on the mound, the fielding team drags it out when one of its relievers is scrambling to get loose. Sure, the ump will break it up and try to keep things moving, but think about how much time it takes.

First, the manager gives the "yap" sign, prompting the catcher to walk out to the mound (12 seconds) and shoot the breeze with his pitcher (16 seconds).

Then the ump walks out (12 seconds) and says, "Okay, fellas, let's play ball" (2 seconds). He and the catcher jog back to the plate (6 seconds) and settle into their crouches (3 seconds).

The pitcher steps onto the rubber (1 second) and looks at the signs for a pitch he'll never throw (3 seconds). Then he steps off (three quarters of a second), and the manager slowly walks from the dugout to the mound (22 seconds) where he blabs to all the infielders about the free premium channels he has in his hotel room and what movies he's gonna watch after the game (17 seconds).

The ump briskly walks back to the mound (9 seconds) and says, "What's it gonna be, boys?" (2 seconds). The manager tells him that he's gonna go with his southpaw (3 seconds) and asks about the wife and kids (1 second). The ump says they're fine (half a second) and signals to the bullpen (three-quarters of a second).

That's an extra minute and 51 seconds for the guy getting loose—and he still gets to throw eight warm-up pitches when he takes the mound.

The second time a manager or coach visits the pitcher in one inning, even if it's a different coach each time, he must remove the pitcher from the game.

When the trainer heads to the mound, the ump joins him to make sure that the only thing being discussed is the pitcher's health. Otherwise, the trainer could relay instructions from a coach without the team being charged for one of its two visits.

Excerpted from Watching Baseball Smarter by Zack Hample © 2007.
Reprinted with permission by Vintage Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

Watching Baseball Smarter
A Professional Fan's Guide for Beginners, Semi-experts, and Deeply Serious Geeks
272 pages

Whether you’re a major league couch potato, life-long season ticket-holder, or teaching the game to a beginner, Watching Baseball Smarter leaves no territory uncovered. In his smart and funny fan’s guide, Zack Hample explains the ins and outs of pitching, hitting, running, and fielding, while offering insider trivia and anecdotes that will surprise even the most informed viewers of our national pastime.

"Insightful, engaging and funny -- a treat for anyone who loves the game."
 - Keith Hernandez

Available for purchase at

About the Author
Zack Hample is an obsessed fan and a professional baseball writer. He's collected nearly 3,000 baseballs at Major League games, which gave him the expertise to write his first book, How to Snag Major League Baseballs, in 1999. He continues to chronicle his success at snagging balls on his popular blog, The Baseball Collector.

Other articles by Zack at Baseball Pilgrimages:
How to Get a Baseball at a Major League Ballpark

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