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October 7, 1998

Jim Evans

Marty Springstead


PHYLLIS MERHIGE: Jim Evans, crew chief for this ALCS crew is going to explain the play as the umpires saw it and ruled it, and then we are just going to take two or three questions for him.

JIM EVANS: The way the rule is written is that if the runner interferes with the first baseman or any defensive player taking the throw at first base, when he is not in the runner's lane. There is an interpretation on that that the base is in fair territory. If the runner, the batter runner in this case is in the batter runner lane, which it is called in the rule book, if he stays in that lane he is going to miss the base. Therefore, when you get near the base, a runner is going to have to be in fair territory to legitimately touch the base. So if a runner, batter runner gets hit up the line with the ball and he is not in the lane and it is what we determine to be a quality throw, a throw that we think had a chance to retiring a runner, then he is out. He is out for interference, the ball is dead and all runners are brought back to the base they occupied at the time of the pitch. When you are that close to the base and as this play occurred according to the plate umpire, Ted Hendry, the play occurred right at the base. The fact that he was literally on the base or half a step off the base when it hit him, he has a right to be in that position.

PHYLLIS MERHIGE: Is there a rule number or --

JIM EVANS: I don't have the rule number but it is in the rule book two or three different places -- section 6.

Q. Does that hold true even if the runner had run inside the channel, ran on the grass all the way up to the bag?

JIM EVANS: What the umpire has to look for is the fact that it is a throw that would have retired him. And how close is he to the base. The fact is that he is right there at the base. He has a right to be in fair territory that close to the base.

Q. So you can run in the grass all the way down?

JIM EVANS: You can be in the grass. All depends on ballparks, some places the grass is cut differently. So we don't use the grass. You are either inside the fair territory, the foul line or outside the foul line.

Q. It could stay in fair territory the whole way?

JIM EVANS: You can be in fair territory. On your route to first base, you can go around the pitcher mound, you know. And there is no there is nothing illegal about going around the pitcher's mound in your route to first base. The question is: Do you interfere with a throw that the defensive player can catch to retire the batter runner. Okay, and so if he did by not being in that runner's lane then you have got a different situation. What I am trying to tell you is what we try to enforce is the fact that the base is in fair territory. The runner is going to have to be in fair territory to touch the base. When it is right at the base, then it is a judgment call on whether or not he is within that area.

Q. Just to clarify the runner could be called out if he -- if the ball does not hit him but he changes the throw of the fielder --

JIM EVANS: No, he doesn't change the throw. In other words, don't confuse your college rules with your high school rules. In some amateur rules, the guy doesn't even have to make a throw for it to be interference. It is a safety rule, they don't want high school or college kids or ambiguous kids getting hurt with a throw that is going to hit him when he is running inside fair territory. If professional baseball if the batter runner is in fair territory, in other words, he is not in the runner's lane, then he can be called out if he interferes with a throw that has a chance to retire the batter runner prior to reaching the base. In this case, the problem happened right at the base. It happened on the base. So that is what the plate umpire Ted Hendry based his ruling on the fact that he has a right to be in fair territory at the base. Again, if a throw is on the second base side of the base and not right at the base it doesn't hit him they probably retire or it is a bang, bang play.

Q. I understand what you are saying about proximity to the base runner to the base, but if the fielder's view to throw the ball is obscured because the guy is running way inside the accepted area, is that intuition where the umpire can say, okay, it was near the --

JIM EVANS: No, it is not -- it is not visual obstruction type play. You can't have -- you can't base a ruling on well, if he hadn't been there, then it would have been a free throwing lane and he would have had a better chance to retire him. You don't do that. If the throw that he makes, what they used to teach catchers to do was to throw and hit the runner. Throw and hit the runner before he gets to the base. And he is going to be out. If it is a throw that the umpire interprets to be one that could retire the runner, okay. In other words, if we have got a runner there and he runs outside the lane the whole way, and the catcher fields the ball and throws 140 feet in the air, that goes into the bullpen, down the right field line, even though the runner was inside, and he had the throwing lane blocked for the catcher's throw to first that is not a throw that had a legitimate chance of retiring him. That is not a quality throw. Okay. And the fact that I could give you a lesson. I own an umpire school, get a plug in here for the Academy for Professional Umpiring. I can give you a lesson and tell you how that rule came about. In the old days the foul line interconnected the center of the base. If this is your base, this is your foul line, the foul line interconnected the center of the base. And the runner had half the base. Seven and a half inches, the base is 15 inches, he had seven and a half inches on each side to touch, and as long as he was in foul territory and touched that side, that is fine. Well, then they moved all the bases, that made for some very tough decisions for umpires on fair and foul calls. So they moved the base in fair territory. Now it created a problem because the runner, if he doesn't interfere with the throw, if he stays right for the center of the base, and stays in foul territory, he is literally going to miss the base when he runs by it.

Q. When was that?

JIM EVANS: This is, I don't know, I have got a 700 page appendix on the rule book that I wrote. It was in the late 1800s when they were refining the rules. But, the guy would have to miss the base or just accidentally kick it as he ran by. So they put the runners lane in there and then still, with the runner's lane, that forces him to stay in foul territory, how is he going to step on the base? So, with umpiring interpretations, we allow the runner, when he reaches the proximity of the base, which becomes a very judgmental call - this is a judgment call - if he interferes with the throw, which this guy probably did in this situation, where was he when he interfered with it? He is on the base. Even though he is in fair territory, he is right at the base, okay. That is about all I can say.

Q. Did you see a replay?


Q. You felt it was the right call?

JIM EVANS: The fact that he was right on the base; the fact that he was at the base, makes it a very tough judgment call for the plate umpire.

Q. So you thought based on the replay, you thought he made the right call?

JIM EVANS: I thought the call could have gone either way. But I think -- I think it was a proper call probably in that situation.

Q. NBC felt compelled today to put the rule book definition of the strike zone on the screen because of Ted Hendry's calls and then Joe Torre came in here and said it stunk all day, both ways. Would you comment on that?

MARTY SPRINGSTEAD: I was in the stands so it is very hard for me to comment on it. I was sitting down in a stool in the groundskeeper's booth, so for me to call balls and strikes from that point is very difficult. I thought Ted Hendry was consistent for both teams. But, you know, I always get a kick out of when managers say he is not doing a good job or the same; your umpire is umpiring for the other team too.

End of FastScripts….

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