Bob Davidson (umpire)

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Bob Davidson
Bob Davidson umpiring a game at Camden Yards in April 2007.
Born (1952-08-03) August 3, 1952 (age 62)
Chicago, Illinois
Occupation MLB umpire
Height 6' 0"
Weight 230 lb.

Robert Allan Davidson (born August 3, 1952) is an umpire for Major League Baseball.

Major League Baseball career[edit]

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 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,[1] 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 League 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.[2]

In 2014, Davidson's crew included crew chief John Hirschbeck, James Hoye, and a AAA Fill In Umpire.

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, 1998 and 2009, and in the 1987, 1993, and 2014 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).[3] 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[edit]

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.[4]


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 ass?"[5] During the argument, Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel was ejected by Davidson. Three days later, Major League Baseball suspended Davidson from umpiring 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.[2]

2006 World Baseball Classic[edit]

Japan vs. the United States[edit]

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.

Other controversial calls[edit]

  • 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."[6][7][8]
  • On September 8, 2010, Davidson ejected three people during a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers.[9] 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.[6]
  • On August 14, 2014, Davidson made two controversial calls in a game between the San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals. In the bottom of the 8th with a runner on and the game tied 2-2, Tony Cruz, on a full count, swung and missed on an off-speed pitch thrown in the dirt by Alex Torres. Davidson called it a foul tip, however, and Cruz continued his at-bat. Replays clearly showed that Cruz didn't make contact with the ball, which drew ire from Padres fans as the swing-and-miss would have been the third strike for Cruz. However, since foul tips are not reviewable, Padres manager Buddy Black could not challenge the call. Cruz would ultimately reach base and the Cardinals would bring him home while taking a two-run lead. In the top of the 9th, the Padres loaded the bases. Jake Goebbert came to bat and swung on the first pitch for a single to right field, scoring Yasmani Grandal from 3rd. Alexi Amarista, came around from 2nd base as well to try to score what would have been the tying run. Center fielder Shane Robinson threw the ball to catcher A.J. Pierzynski to try to tag out Amarista at the plate. Davidson called out Amarista on the tag, but on the replays it looked like Amarista had actually evaded the initial tag and then continued to reach towards home plate before Pierzynski could tag him out. Subsequent replays also showed what appeared to be Davidson asking Pierzynski if he had tagged Amarista, to which Pierzynski replied that he had. Buddy Black challenged the call on the field of the tag out, and the play went to review. However, the officials were not able to find conclusive evidence to overturn the call on the field, so it was upheld. Black was then ejected for arguing the call and the review. The Padres ended up losing the game, 4-3.[10]


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.[11]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]