Courtesy of Mike Ellis, Jamestown News….
The game between Northwest and Ragsdale was marred by an umpire who decided he
wanted to be the center of attention at last night’s game. This writer has attended
14 high school games this season and many over the course of my life and last
night’s display by the home plate umpire was the most “outlandish” I have ever
First of all his strike zone was about as wide as any I have ever seen. That was
okay…he was consistent. The wide strike zone led to 19 strikeouts in the game.
Pretty impressive since neither team had what you would really call dominating
strikeout pitchers on the mound. The strike zone did lead to some frustration
especially as it continued to expand as the game went on…11 of the strikeouts came
in the last three innings.
This umpire also felt it was essential to the flow of the game to not allow batters to
step out of the batter’s box. This is a rule, but it is a rule that is loosely
enforced and in all of the games I have seen this year, not once have I seen an
umpire enforce it. Players adapt to what they are used to and this umpires strict
adherence to the rule was a drastic change over what teams had experienced all year.
In the sixth inning with Zach Hodges at the plate and the tying run on first, Mr.
Umpire called the first pitch low and away a strike. Hodges wasn’t happy and
stepped out of the box to look down to his coach. With no warning or “request” to
get back in the box, Mr. Umpire throws his hands up in the air walks towards Hodges
and shouts, “out of the box, that’s strike two”. Hodges, visibly upset says
something and the umpire throws him out of the game. A prolonged argument ensues
(approximately fifteen minutes) as Coach Donnie Maness appeals to the umpire about
his decision. Maness eventually declared he was playing the game under protest, but
Hodges was gone and the game had taken an ugly turn.
It just appeared to this writer that the umpire overreacted and almost “baited” the
player into a response. A mature adult, supervising a game of high school
teenagers, could have handled the situation much differently and more
professionally. He let the situation get out of hand.