Dropped Third Strike

Story submitted by a Little League Umpire

The story of my first day umpiring a Little League game or at least a couple strange occurrences.

The group of umpires I’m involved with doesn’t have new umpires work behind the plate, so my first experience started in the field.

I was very nervous, and wasn’t sure exactly what to do or even stand.  Luckily for me, I did watch some videos and positioned myself ten feet behind first base and in foul territory.

Wow, was I nervous.  I focused on what was happening and made sure to put my hands on my knees and watch the ball move toward home plate.  The batter hit the ball to short stop.  I moved into position about 90 degrees to the play and watched the batter-runner while listening to the ball hit the glove. 

I put my hand up, made a fist and called him out.  Wow, okay that felt pretty good.

The game continued, and I did an okay job throughout.  Then something strange happened regarding a dropped third strike.

Scenario

Bottom of the 6th inning.  The team up to bat is down by three runs.  The batter’s count is 3-2 (full).  The ball is pitched and the batter swings and misses the ball completely.  The ball goes past the catcher, all the way to the backstop.  The catcher stands up and moves to find the ball.  The batter begins running toward first.  The 1st base runner moves to second, second moves to third, and third crosses the plate. 

The home plate umpire says out, game over.  I thought, hmmmm, I don’t think the game is over, that run scores.  I’m trying to run through my head, why is the game over?  What rule am I missing?  I think, wait, the game isn’t over, the catcher needs to either step on home plate for the force out or throw down to first base before the batter reaches the bag.

I start to make my way toward home plate to talk to the other umpire (we will call him Fred – definitely not his name) and as I make my way over there, all the players slap five and clear the field.  I talk to the home plate umpire and ask why it was the third out. Fred says yeah, dropped third strike the batter is out as bases were loaded.

I explained, I don’t think the game is over, but at that point, the field emptied. Fred said, I’ll check on that and let you know. About 45 minutes later, he called me and said, hey, you were right. The run scored and there would still only be 2 outs.

One of the strange things I was surprised about is that the home team didn’t say something right away but they may not have realized it.

So, what should I have done in that situation? I’ve asked a couple other umpires and they said, next time try to call time out and have the discussion before everyone leaves the field.

So that made my first game extremely memorable as well as gave me a great learning experience.

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