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Old Mon Oct 05, 2009, 10:16pm
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1978 Yankees Red Sox

When I got home from work today i tuned into the MLB network and they were showing the Yankees Red Sox playoff game from 1978. It brought back fond memories. I cut class that day (senior year in college) to watch the game. It was three years before I started my umpiring career. Some random observations:

1. Umpiring crew for the game was HP-Don Denkinger; 1B-Jim Evans; 2B-Al Clark; 3B-Steve Palermo

2. I don't think Ron Guidry came to a stop the entire game while in the stretch and not a single balk was called. I remember that being quite common back then.

3. Clark worked to the outfield side of 2B the entire game, even with runners on 1st and/or 2nd. That was the old AL system.

4. The game moved at a much faster pace than today. Pitchers and batters didn't waste as nearly as much time as today's players do.

5. There was no appeal on check swings. In the 2 or 3 innings I watched, I saw 4 check swings tht would have surely been ruled strikes today called a ball with no appeal.

6. The catchers - Thurman Munson and Carlton Fisk - did not move around behind the plate like today's catchers do. They gave the target by simply moving their mitts rather than shifting their entire bodies. They gave the plate umpire a much better view of the pitch.

7. Umps on the bases got much closer to the play than they do today.

Just thought I'd share some observations on how the game has changed in 30 years. Man, I'm getting old.

Chris Wright
Brooklyn, NY
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Old Tue Oct 06, 2009, 10:09am
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Great stuff!

It's cool watching these classic games through the eyes of an umpire this time around.

Re: No. 2: I've watched Game 1 of the 1968 World Series a few times recently. Bob Gibson balked repeatedly those few times any runners were aboard. He could have been nicked five or six times in the ninth inning alone.
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Old Tue Oct 06, 2009, 10:19am
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The rukes were different then.

From JEA:

It was not until 1950 that the rules committee introduced the complete stop rule. That first official rule required the pitcher to stop for one full second.

In 1964, the rule was amended by dropping the one full second requirement. The new wording merely stated that the pitcher had to come to a stop. The stop was determined umpire's judgment. Rule 8.01(b) was also changed to reflect the new interpretation. A complete stop was required rather than a one full second stop.

In 1988, the rulesmakers made an effort to strengthen the enforcement of the "complete stop" by mandating a "single complete and discernable stop before throwing the ball." A change of directions was not to be construed as a complete stop.
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Old Tue Oct 06, 2009, 02:33pm
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As I remember it, sometime in the early 1960s MLB put in the one-second stipulation (to replace a sort of undefined "stop") and instructed the umpires to enforce the rule strictly. (Or maybe the one-second rule existed but had been ignored until then.) There were so many balks called, and so many arguments, that by 1964 it simply became a "stop" again. I pitched under OBR rules between 1964 and 1972, and all you had to do was change direction. Hands in and out would do it, since theoretically, with a reverse of direction, you had to have stopped somewhere in there. But in those days they didn't really call balks anyway, except in the most obvious cases.

The old films are great. From the 1940s, you see gloves on the outfield grass, umpires with the right arm in the air before the ball hits the mitt, catchers standing almost fully upright as the pitcher's arm comes around, and the 1B umpire making calls in the little area between the bag and the coach's box. And they made all the calls immediately. Anything less than a full swing was considered checked, and I don't know what a runner had to do to be called for INT at 2B. Apparently they did have a crash rule, which went something like "the runner must crash into a fielder who is attempting to tag him."
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Last edited by greymule; Tue Oct 06, 2009 at 02:40pm.
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Old Tue Oct 06, 2009, 04:56pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greymule View Post
The old films are great. From the 1940s, you see gloves on the outfield grass, umpires with the right arm in the air before the ball hits the mitt, catchers standing almost fully upright as the pitcher's arm comes around, and the 1B umpire making calls in the little area between the bag and the coach's box. And they made all the calls immediately.
In The Best Seat in Baseball, but You Have to Stand, there is a mention of a new (for the 70s) approach to umpiring: Wait before making the call. Make sure the ball is caught. Make sure the fielder doesn't drop it after a tag, etc. Seems strange today to think of that as a new idea.
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Old Tue Oct 06, 2009, 07:18pm
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In the old days, it was considered indecisive to have any timing at all. They felt that if you called it really quick it looked like you were really sure of your call. Until umpires were blowing calls left and right, I guess. Then they came up with their "new" approach.
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Old Tue Oct 06, 2009, 07:28pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SanDiegoSteve View Post
In the old days, it was considered indecisive to have any timing at all. They felt that if you called it really quick it looked like you were really sure of your call. Until umpires were blowing calls left and right, I guess. Then they came up with their "new" approach.
Come on SDS, it was your neighbor down the road who changed it.

"Harvey regarded his greatest contribution to baseball as being the introduction of a new sense of timing to umpiring; he noted that when he arrived in the major leagues, the emphasis was on making calls quickly and decisively, and said, "Everything was called too quickly. I've got a photograph of Jocko Conlan working first base. Jocko's arm was extended in the out call. But the runner was still short of the bag, and the ball was still in flight. In those days it was common to anticipate the call." Harvey, however, changed attitudes by insisting that it was better to delay the call and make sure it was correct".

Last edited by tballump; Tue Oct 06, 2009 at 07:57pm.
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Old Wed Oct 07, 2009, 10:56pm
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FYI from JEA

The rule that allows the manager or catcher to request the plate umpire to "get help" from his partner on half-swings was instituted in 1976.
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