In what was apparently the first case of a television replay being used by a baseball game official, home plate umpire Paul Runge admitted he reversed himself on a controversial play Monday night, thus denying a run that had been credited to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
TV replays have been used in recent years in the National Football League to assist in some officiating decisions, but baseball entrusts all on-field decisions to the umpiring crew.Such was the case Monday night when, in the fifth inning of the New York-Pittsburgh game, Runge ruled that a pitch from New York's Dwight Gooden didn't glance off the bat of Pittsburgh's Jose Lind. The resulting wild pitch allowed Rafael Belliard to score from third base for an apparent 3-1 Pittsburgh lead.
But Runge noticed a scoreboard replay that showed the ball glancing off Lind's bat. The umpire called others in his crew together and changed the call to a foul tip.
"I didn't see it hit the bat and I didn't hear it," Runge said. "I was putting my mask back on and I saw the replay, like everybody else. . . . I don't know if it's right, baseball-wise, to change the call, but it became a moral issue. I don't know if I'll be reprimanded or not.
"I ended up getting the play correct," Runge said. "It was morally correct. . . . If it's mechanically correct or not, I'll wait to hear from the powers that be."
Pittsburgh manager Jim Leyland argued the reversal for about 10 minutes, then announced he was playing the game under protest.
"This is baseball, not football, and there shouldn't be a delay for a replay," Leyland said.
After play resumed, with Belliard back at third, Gooden struck out Lind and retired Andy Van Slyke on a fly to center to keep the score 2-1. That's the way the game ended.