Our digital and social media producer Rachel Rohr is back from a month-long trip cross-country, talking with young Americans.
At the bottom of the first inning, with the Red Sox’s Dustin Pedroia running to second, the Cardinal’s shortstop Pete Kozma –who was covering second — completely missed the ball.
But the second base umpire –Dana DeMuth — called Pedroia out. The other umpires overturned the call.
As home plate umpire John Hirschbeck said to the Cardinals’ manager, “There’s five of us out here, OK? And all five of us say we’re 100 percent sure that that was not a catch.”
The Red Sox went onto win the first game of the World Series 8-1.
ROBIN YOUNG, HOST:
So to last night. Sorry, Cardinal fans, the Boston Red Sox took Game One of the World Series, beating the St. Louis Cardinals here at Fenway Park eight to one. There was some incredible Cardinal play: that catch by the outfielder Carlos Beltran. He injured ribs while robbing the Red Sox of a grand slam.
But the Cards did not get the call they wanted at second base. Now they did initially, the umpire declaring that the Cards' second-baseman tagged the Red Sox runner, but then he bobbled the ball, and after an historic umpire huddle, the call was reversed. On TV we watched a steaming Cardinal manager, Mike Metheny, get in the face of home-plate umpire John Hirschbeck. Here's Hirschbeck.
JOHN HIRSCHBECK: There's five of us out here, OK, and all five of us say we are 100 percent sure that that was not a catch. Our job is to get it right.
YOUNG: NPR's Mike Pesca was in the park, as well. He joins us in the studio. First of all, Mike, what was that moment like in the park?
MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Well, they didn't show the replay on the big screen, but there are TVs all throughout, and wouldn't you know it, many of these Boston fans are quite partisan, and they just saw this was a blown call.
You know, you ask yourself, the umpire was right there, Dana DeMuth, and by the way, we heard Hirschbeck say there are five of us who agree, you know there are six on the umpiring crew, the sixth is Dana DeMuth, the guy who made the bad call. And he's standing right on top of the play. How could you miss a play like that?
It's because - and I've umpired, not at the major league level, but what an umpire is supposed to do on a play like that is watch the footwork because you have to see if the - if he's on the bag, if the shortstop or second-baseman is on the bag or off the bag. And you hear, you listen to the pop of the glove. So I think when he heard the pop, the ball go into the glove, only it didn't stay in the glove, he assumed the catch was made, he called an out, and then it was reversed.
John Farrell, the Red Sox manager, goes out there. How could you make that call? The umpire said, you know what, you're right. We'll let him on the base. I don't think anyone in the park has ever seen as successful an argument from a manager. I asked John Farrell that, and he said yeah, it doesn't happen that often.
YOUNG: Well, but it was also a reminder that next year there are going to be replays in Major League Baseball, and I was thinking it was so much fun, of course not as much fun in the end for Cardinal fans, but there was the yelling and the hair-tearing and the - now if they just go and watch the replay, it's somehow not as exciting.
PESCA: Yeah, that's the bocce ball argument for baseball. Like it's not getting things right, it's getting things close. And you know what, I really do think it's getting things right. I mean, who today would be saying, oh, if St. Louis had gotten out of that inning and won, it was a huge inning-changing, game-changing play, who would say hey, but we had a good argument. No, it's better to have a fair result.
YOUNG: Well just briefly, I did feel game-changing, like that took a lot of wind out of the Cardinals' sails, but I think it's impossible they're not going to come back strong tonight.
PESCA: They did seem tight. You know, the Red Sox have won nine straight, but the Cardinals are really good. Don't count them out after one game.
YOUNG: Don't count them out even with that eight-one. I'm not. Nobody here is counting the Cardinals out. Mike Pesca, NPR's sports correspondent, thanks so much.
PESCA: You're welcome.
YOUNG: Enjoy the game. Back in a bit. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.