My Dad and the Play at First Base
My dad is one of those people whose whole life revolves around the day’s game… in his case, the St. Louis Cardinals.
I stopped by his place one day when the game was on and walked in just in time to hear him yelling about a call at first base. At the end of his rant he said, “How in the world can you get a play at first base wrong? That is the simplest play possible!”
Once he calmed down a little, I asked him what an umpire had to do to get a call right at first base. He said, “Well, you look at it and you make a call.” I replied, “Look at what?”
He finally offered, “Well, you look at the ball in the glove and then you look at where the runner’s foot is.”
Didn’t take long to blow that one out of the water! I said, “By the time you look down at the foot, it is five feet farther along than when your eyes were on the glove! Good luck getting that one right!”
Dad took his medicine. He realized he was talking to an umpire. He said, “So what do they look at?”
I said, “You have to get to a 45-degree angle from where the fielder is so you can see the runner’s foot and the fielder’s foot. You have to watch the throw halfway so you know where it is going – and adjust to the baseline if the throw is off-mark and there might be a swipe tag. If the throw is good, you get your body set when the throw is halfway. Your eyes go to the bag and you watch for the runner’s foot touching first and you listen for the pop of the glove from the throw. Whichever comes first ‘wins.’ You then give yourself a split second before making your call so that you aren’t rushing things, which is when you make mistakes. After all that, then you make your call.”
He paused a bit, “All that, huh?” I said, “Yep.”
By this time they were showing the replay of the play at first. The umpire was right.
Medicine? A double dose!