Bob Davidson (umpire)
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Bob Davidson umpiring a game at Camden Yards in April 2007.
August 3, 1952 |
Major League Baseball career 
Davidson was on the full-time umpiring staff for Major League Baseball in the National League from 1982 to 1999. He resigned in 1999 as part of a labor negotiation strategy. However, Davidson has returned to professional umpiring and now is again part of the MLB staff. Davidson, who has been nicknamed "Balkin' Bob" or "Balk-a-day-Bob" due to his frequent balk calls, currently wears number 61 but wore number 31 during his career in the NL. When the AL and NL merged their umpiring staffs in 2000, number 31 was assigned to Mike Reilly who wore the number in the AL. Upon his return to Major Leagure Baseball in 2006, Davidson was assigned number 61. For the 2011 season, he wore number 6, later changing back to 61. He is consistently voted by players and managers as one of the worst umpires in Major League Baseball, placing fourth-worst in a Sports Illustrated poll in 2011.
He officiated in the 1992 World Series, as well as the National League Championship Series in 1988, 1991 and 1996. He also worked in the National League Division Series in 1995 and 1998, and in the 1987 and 1993 All-Star Games.
During the baseball off-season and during his late 1990s hiatus from baseball, Davidson was a part-time talk show host for 850 KOA in Denver (the radio broadcast partner of the Colorado Rockies). He also did a semi-regular stint about once a week being interviewed about umpiring as part of Rockies pre-game shows prior to his resignation (see below).
Resignation and return 
Davidson resigned from the NL staff in 1999 as part of a failed mass resignation during labor negotiations. He was out of professional baseball until 2003, when he resumed umpiring in minor league baseball, including the A-level Midwest League. In December 2004, he and fellow resignees Tom Hallion and Ed Hickox were guaranteed three of the next five positions on the Major League umpire staff, with Davidson reportedly guaranteed the first vacancy. Davidson returned in 2007 to umpiring Major League Baseball games after the retirement of Joe Brinkman.
On May 15, 2012 during a game in Philadelphia, Davidson and the Phillies' catcher bumped into each other during a play involving a strike 3 wild pitch. The Astros' runner was able to safely make it to first base on the play. Davidson yelled into the Philadelphia dugout "You think I wanted to block his (behind)?" During the argument, Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel was ejected by Davidson. Three days later, Major League Baseball suspended Davidson from officiating one game because of "repeated violations of the Office of the Commissioner's standards for situation handling". According to MLB, the suspension resulted from a "culmination of several incidents" as well as Davidson's conduct during the argument with Manuel. Manuel was also suspended for one game.
2006 World Baseball Classic umpiring controversy 
Japan vs. the United States 
In the top of the eighth inning of a second-round tie game against the United States, Team Japan's Tsuyoshi Nishioka was at third base when Akinori Iwamura hit a pop fly to left field off of Joe Nathan. This was easily fielded by American fielder Randy Winn. Nishioka started from third base on the sacrifice fly. Winn did not catch Nishioka at home, giving Japan a 4–3 lead. The American team executed an appeal play, arguing that Nishioka had not properly tagged up at third base. As third base umpire Neil Poulton had gone out to left field for the catch/no catch call, home plate umpire Davidson became responsible for making calls on the runner on third base. Second base umpire Brian Knight ruled that Nishioka was safe. American manager Buck Martinez argued that Nishioka had left third base too early and that the wrong umpire had made the call on the appeal play. Davidson met with the other umpires and then ruled Nishioka out. Video replay showed that Nishioka had properly tagged up at third base. Japan lost the game by one run on an Alex Rodriguez double in the bottom of the ninth inning. Although the loss put Japan's hopes of advancing to the next round in serious jeopardy, they moved on anyway, at the expense of the United States.
Mexico vs. the United States 
In the bottom of the third inning of a second-round game between Mexico and the United States, Mexican outfielder Mario Valenzuela hit what appeared to be a home run off of American pitcher Roger Clemens. The ball struck the foul pole in right field. In the rules of baseball, a ball hit off the foul pole is a home run. The ball hit the pole hard enough that some of the pole's yellow paint was visible on the ball. However, first base umpire Davidson ruled that the ball had remained in play and that Mexico's batter had only hit a double. Incredulous Mexican pitcher Esteban Loaiza showed Davidson the ball with the yellow paint on it, although this did not succeed in getting the call overturned. The call had little impact on the tournament. Jorge Cantú singled Valenzuela home later that inning anyway, meaning that the only impact the call had was on Valenzuela's individual statistics. Mexico won the game 2–1, eliminating the United States from the tournament.
Other controversial calls 
- On October 20, 1992, in the third game of the 1992 World Series between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Atlanta Braves, Davidson ruled that Deion Sanders was not tagged out on a controversial play in the 4th inning. After a David Justice blast to center field was snagged by Devon White, baserunners Terry Pendleton and Sanders crossed each other on the basepath, resulting in an automatic out. With two outs now on the play, John Olerud delivered the ball to third-baseman Kelly Gruber. Gruber and shortstop Manuel Lee now had Sanders engaged in a rundown, and as Gruber closed in on Sanders, feigning a throw to second, Sanders dove headfirst back to second. Gruber dove as well, dragging his glove across Sanders' right foot before his hand reached the base. Davidson called Sanders safe and refuted an argument from manager Cito Gaston.
- On August 5, 2010, Gaby Sánchez of the Florida Marlins hit a hard ground ball down the third base line which was ruled foul by Davidson. However, subsequent replays showed that the ball landed just in fair territory, bounced over the base and landed again in fair territory, sparking outrage from the Marlins dugout. The Philadelphia Phillies went on to win the game in ten innings by a score of 5–4. Davidson later stated, "In my opinion, where it goes over the bag, you can't tell ... I'm very confident I got it right. What the ball did when it went past me is irrelevant."
- On September 8, 2010 Davidson ejected three people during a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers. In the bottom of the 3rd inning Davidson ejected Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan for arguing balls and strikes from the dugout. Later, during the bottom of the 5th inning, Davidson ejected Brewers batter Chris Dickerson after Dickerson dropped his helmet and bat to the ground after taking a called third strike. The final ejection occurred during the bottom of the 7th inning when Davidson ejected a fan for heckling Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina.
- In the top of the 13th inning with the score tied 5–5 in a game that started on April 9, 2011, Edwin Encarnación of the Toronto Blue Jays hit a weak ground ball to Los Angeles Angels Third Baseman Alberto Callaspo. Callaspo fielded the ball but made a poor throw allowing Edwin Encarnación to beat out the throw. Davidson called Yunel Escobar out at third for runners' interference. This sparked anger from the Jays' bench because replays seemed to show that Escobar ran nonstop in a straight line from second to third base. The Angels went on to win the game after scoring in the 14th inning.
Bob Davidson is a graduate of Duluth East High School in Duluth, Minnesota and he played baseball at the University of Minnesota-Duluth before pursuing a professional umpiring career. He spent eight years in the minors before being promoted to the majors. He is married to Denise and has two daughters, Amber and Andrea, and two grandchildren, Alana and Brock. He resides in Colorado. In 2010, Davidson was elected into the University of Minnesota-Duluth Athletic Hall of Fame.
See also 
- Hoynes, Paul (May 19, 2012). "Veteran umpire has a hair-trigger temper (but it's nothing personal): MLB Insider". Cleveland.com (Cleveland). Retrieved July 12, 2012.
- Rosecrans, C. Trent, "MLB suspends umpire Bob Davidson and Phillies' Charlie Manuel", www.cbssports.com, Friday, May 18, 2012.
- Roder, Rick (January 12, 2007). "Brinkman retires after 34 seasons". MLB.com. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
- http://philadelphia.phillies.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2012_05_15_houmlb_phimlb_1&mode=wrap&c_id=mlb#/play?content_id=21456561Video: Manuel's ejection
- http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/nationals/phillies-manager-charlie-manuel-umpire-bob-davidson-suspended-1-game-each-after-argument/2012/05/18/gIQAfuzyYU_story.html. Missing or empty
- Miklasz, Bernie. "Bernie: Ump Davidson a disgrace to the game". Stltoday. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
- Lancaster, Marc. "Umpire Bob Davidson's Blown Call Costs Marlins Victory". Retrieved 30 September 2012.
- Koster, Kyle. "Bob Davidson's call costs the Marlins -- but how bad was it really?". Sports Pros(e). Retrieved 30 September 2012.
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