Umpire Life on the Road: Day 81

Major League umpires will spend a vast majority of the year on the road and away from home. Hotels, airports, trains, planes and automobiles will be home to every umpire from March to October. This is an ongoing series entitled “Umpire Life on the Road”.

June 1, 2011 Day 81 on the road – When the Lights went out in Georgia St. Louis

A bank of lights go out in St. Louis

In the bottom of the 11th inning, with two outs and a runner at first base, the Giants were leading the Cardinals 7-5. On the 1-1 pitch, a bank of lights over home plate went out just as the catcher caught the pitch.

We have seen these light failures on occasion and typically the lights are the result of a bad breaker. The fix is to turn the bank off, let them cool and then restart them. Generally around a 15-20 minute delay. Due to the location of the malfunctioning lights being behind home plate, there was little alternative but to wait for the lights to come back on.

Had the lights not turned back on, and it was determined that the delay in repairing them would be either lengthy or unknown, the game would become a suspended game to be completed at a future date and time. The following rule would apply in this situation:

Official Baseball Rules 4.12 (3) A game shall become a suspended game that must be completed at a future date if the game is terminated for any of the following reasons: (3) Light failure of malfunction of a mechanical field device under the control of the home club. (Mechanical field device shall include automatic tarpaulin or water removal equipment);

Had a pitch or play been in progress and we could not follow such play due to the light failure, then the following rule interpretation would apply:

Major League Baseball Umpire Manual: 4.10 TEMPORARY FAILURE OF LIGHTS – In the event of a temporary failure of lights while a ball is in flight or a play is in progress and the umpires are not able to follow the play because of the light failure, the umpires will immediately call “Time.” If a play is in progress when such light failure occurs and further action is possible, the entire play shall be nullified. When the lights are restored, play shall resume with the same situation as existed at the start of the play that was interrupted by the light failure. NOTE: If runners are being awarded bases at the time of light failure, after the lights have been restored runners are allowed to run bases in accordance with base-running rules.

Play: Batter hits ball out of ballpark for home run. After the ball has left the park and runners are rounding the bases, light failure occurs. Ruling: When the lights are restored, runners are allowed to run bases in accordance with base-running rules.

The lights did come back on in just under 15 minutes, and play resumed. A single pitch was thrown and the final out was recorded to end the game. Myself and the crew leave the ballpark that night just a minute shy of our 82 second day on the road.


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Welcome to the official blog of UMPS CARE Charities. Its purpose is to share personal insights on umpiring and the community outreach activities in an effort to generate inspiration and interest in the many programs of this Major League Umpire charity.

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