Some of you may or may not know that in a previous life, I was a high school and college umpire. When I got to college, I quickly learned that I really enjoyed beer, but that it also interrupted things like studying, and sobriety. So I took a semester off, and traveled to the Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring. Fancy, right? The four week camp was located in Chandler, Arizona about a month before the start of spring training. I remember my dad and I drove down on New Year’s Eve and celebrated the ball drop on the campus of Arizona State. It’s also where I saw how many Long Island Iced Teas he could drink before he passed out. Answer: 2.
Umpire school was about what you’d think it was. Like Spring Training, but for assholes. You stay in the players’s dorms. You get up at the crack of dawn. Do some calestenics (hungover), do balls and strikes, and then in the afternoon, you’d run through simulated plays or call camp games. But in the morning, there was class work. (Hey, it says “Academy” duct taped right on the door.)We went through every single page of the Major League Rulebook, the Red Book, which are the interpretations of MLB rules, and case plays. I often say that the MLB Rulebook is the second most argued about book in the history of the world. It is a mess. Contradictions. Errors. Cyclical references that don’t make any sense. Five point type. To truly know it is to be among a select few of those that either have extreme OCD or those who are just assholes wanting to find the one clause that wins their argument. These are probably the same people that reads the Terms of Agreement when you get a new cell phone, or sign up for cable.
Anyway, each day we’d spend on a different topic. Interference. Obstruction. (There’s a difference.) There’s even a Type A and a Type B Obstruction. Like it’s a condition you get from your proctologist. “Sir, I’m sorry to tell you this, but you have Type B Obstruction.” “Is it serious??” “Well, you’ll be out the rest of the inning.” We spent three days on the balk rule. There were lectures about what a catch is and isn’t. (Still not as fucked up as the NFL.) We had guest speakers on the intentionally dropped ball – which is kind of the reverse of the infield fly rule. For a 19 year old, I absolutely ate it up. There’s way more to this story which I’ll tell some other time, but the point is that fourteen years later, I was sitting at home, maybe drinking a Long Island Iced tea watching a game between the Royals and the Los Angeles Angels. The date was July 1, 2005.
The Royals were hosting the Angels,and the Royals were smack in the middle of their worst season in franchise history. The Buddy Bell-led Royals were well past the “We Believe” nonsense of 2003 and on their third manager of the year. They were, quite simply, circling the drain. Exhibit A was the first inning of the game. Bell submitted a lineup card to the umpires. That is the official record regardless what might be posted in the press box or dugout. What you hand to the umpire is gospel. It had Angel Berroa hitting leadoff, then David DeJesus hitting second.
What actually happened was that David DeJesus walked up to the plate to start the game and singled. Only Angels manager Mike Scioscia protested. Sure enough, Berroa was in the slot at leadoff. Now, there’s a whole protocol to appealing a batting out of order. It’s easier to put something before the Supreme Court than check all the boxes, but the Angels did, and Berroa was called out, DeJesus was removed from first and required to bat, again, in his proper spot. The catcher is credited with a put out on the play. DeJesus would then fly out to centerfield, and the Royals would go on to lose 5-0.
Just one of several notable facepalm moments in the Royals 2005 season, but the only one in which I stood from my couch screaming (to no one in particular, “I know that!! I know what happened!!” And David DeJesus achieved the nearly impossible by batting twice in a row in a major league game.
You wanna get REALLY in the weeds? Retrosheet has documented each and every instance of batting out of order in history. Nerds.
There doesn’t appear to be any video of this, so here’s a couple other pictures of me umpiring at Kauffman through the years.