June 26, 2020

Do-Overs in Baseball

Go back, Jack, and do it again

Do-Overs in Baseball

Ump Calls Time Before Pitch

The most common “Do-Over” is when an umpire calls “Time” just before the pitcher delivers the pitch. Rule 8.03 (b) (2) empowers all umpires on the field to call “Time” for legal cause. An unexpected “Time” call once took away a win and a grand slam home run.

In the April 10, 1976, game between the Yankees and Brewers in Milwaukee, the Brewers were trailing 9-6 in the bottom of the ninth with no outs when Don Money hit a bases loaded home run to give the Brewers an apparent 10-9 win. But the homer was nullified, and the pitch had to be replayed. Sometime before Money connected with the ball, Yankees’ manager Billy Martin got first baseman Chris Chambliss’ attention from the dugout. Martin wanted Chambliss to call a timeout to tell Dave Pagan to pitch from the wind-up. Jim McKean, the first base umpire, granted the timeout just before Pagan delivered the pitch. But Pagan was oblivious to the time- out and made his pitch to Money, who deposited it in the left field bleachers. The County Stadium crowd went crazy. But the victory party was short lived when they realized Money had to bat again.

“Brewers’ manager Alex Grammas had to be sent for as he was already in the clubhouse with half of the Brewers bench,” said Nick Bremigan, who umpired second base. The game was protested but to no avail. Money batted again and hit a sac/fly. The Yankees won the game, 9-7 because of the “Do-Over.”

Ironically, the shoe was on the other foot 32 years earlier. During the 1944 season Al Zarilla of the St. Louis Browns lined out to Yankees’ right fielder Bud Metheny with Gene Moore on first. However, first base umpire Bill McGowan had called “Time” to let Moore tie his shoe. Granted the “Do-Over,” Zarilla hit a two-run homer.

  The Defensive Team Must Have Nine Players on the Field

Rule 1.01 reads in part, “Baseball is a game played between two teams of nine players each.”

The most basic rule in the game created one of the most unusual at-bats in baseball history that led to a protest. The 9-player rule came alive at Shea Stadium on the night of August 21, 1979, where the Mets hosted the Astros.

The Astros’ Jeff Leonard was batting with two outs in the ninth inning when he flied to Lee Mazzilli in center field to apparently end the game. But before the pitch was delivered by Pete Falcone, Mets’ shortstop Frank Taveras had called “Time.” Thinking the game was over, Mets’ first baseman Ed Kranepool left the field and entered the dugout.

Leonard had a “Do-Over.” While the Mets only had eight players on the field, Leonard singled to left. As Leonard approached first base, Kranepool returned to the field realizing he had made a mistake. The umpires decided that since the Mets only had eight players on the field, Leonard had to bat again. If you’re counting, that’s two “Do-Overs.” In his third try Leonard flied out to end the game.

The Astros protested the ruling that nullified Leonard’s base hit. National League President Chub Feeney upheld the protest on the grounds that “Time” was in when Leonard singled. So, before the August 22nd game, the game was resumed with two outs in the top of the ninth and Leonard on first base. Kevin Kobel got Jose Cruz to ground out and the Mets 5-0 victory was official.

From this corner, Chub “flubbed” this one. Critical of Feeney’s decision, one former umpire said, “All precedents in major league history indicate a team must have nine players to continue playing.” In addition to rule 1.01, Feeney apparently ignored rule 5.02 that reads, “When the ball is put in play at the start of, or during a game, all fielders other than the catcher shall be on fair territory.” Therefore, no play can occur unless the defensive team has nine players on the field.

Also, a fair question would be, why didn’t any of the three umpires-Frank Pulli (HP), Andy Olsen (1b), Doug Harvey (3b)], observe that the Mets had only eight players on the field. Unlike football officials, however, I’ll bet it’s seldom that baseball umps count the number of players on the field. (No umpire worked second base)

Light Failure  

Section 48 of the Major League Umpires Manual reads, “In the event of a temporary failure of lights while a ball is in flight or a play is in progress and the umpires are not able to follow the play because of light failure, the umpires will immediately call “Time.” If a play is in progress when such light failure occurs, and further action is possible, the entire play shall be nullified.”

That’s a “Do-Over.”  Also see rule 5.12 (b) (2).

During an Eastern League in 1971, John Wockenfuss was batting for the Pittsfield Senators when he took the pitch down the middle for an apparent third strike. But the lights on six of the eight poles went off while the pitch was in flight. The plate umpire had to order a “Do-Over,” and let Wockenfuss continue batting with an 0-2 count. Yes, he fanned anyway on the “fourth strike.”

Ball Slips out of Pitcher’s Hand

Rule 6.02 (b) (Comment) says, “A ball which slips out of the pitcher’s hand and crosses the foul line shall be called a ball; otherwise it will be called no pitch. This would be a balk with men on base.”  So, it’s a “Do-Over” with no runners on base if a pitch slips out of the pitcher’s hand and doesn’t cross the foul line. This is quite common.


Pitch Hits Flying Bird

On March 24, 2001, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the San Francisco Giants met for an unremarkable spring training game in Arizona when Randy Johnson fired a pitch that struck a flying dove in front of home plate. The umps ruled “no-pitch,” a “Do-Over.” If a batted or thrown ball strikes a bird or animal, the ball remains in play. But a pitched ball striking a bird or animal nullifies the pitch. This is covered in section 78 of the MLB Umpire Manual.

Rich Marazzi

Rules consultant:  Blue Jays, Brewers, Cardinals, D’backs, Dodgers, Orioles, Padres, Phillies, Pirates, Rangers, Rays, Reds, Red Sox, Royals, Tigers, Twins, Yankees, the Sinclair Regional Sports Networks, ESPN, YES, and White Sox TV

Don't strike out!

Become a part of the largest baseball rules community in the world!

Get free access to baseball forums, rules analysis and exclusive email content from current and former Major League Baseball players and umpires.