|41 – Jerry Meals|
Meals umpiring in 2011
October 20, 1961 |
|MLB debut||September 14, 1992|
|Career highlights and awards|
Gerald William "Jerry" Meals (born on October 20, 1961) is a Major League Baseball umpire. Meals biggest assignment was the 2014 World Series, where he was the home plate umpire in Game One. Meals has been a full-time MLB umpire since 1998 after serving as an MLB reserve umpire from 1992 to 1997. He worked in the 2008 NLCS between Philadelphia and Los Angeles and the All-Star Game in 2002 and 2015. He has also worked in seven Division Series (1999, 2004, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2014).
Early life and career
Meals was a 1979 graduate of Salem High School, where he played second base and briefly competed on the wrestling team. After umpiring local baseball for four years, Meals graduated from the Joe Brinkman Umpire School in 1983. At age 21, Meals received his first minor league umpiring assignment in the Class A Appalachian League. By 1985, Meals had moved to the South Atlantic League, where he was partnered with 20-year-old future MLB umpire Wally Bell. While working in the Southern League in 1989, Meals was featured in an ESPN documentary on minor league umpires. His family and fellow umpires Chris Jaksa and Fieldin Culbreth also appeared in the film. Meals worked in Triple-A baseball (Triple-A Alliance and the International League) from 1990 to 1997 before receiving a full-time promotion to the major leagues. Meals spent the 2014 season as an interim crew chief while regular crew chief Gary Darling was on the Disabled List. Meals was officially promoted to permanent crew chief upon Darling's retirement.
In his first full-time MLB season, Meals was the home plate umpire when Kerry Wood tied a major league record with 20 strikeouts in a 1998 game. Meals was struck in the mask by a Wood fastball on his first pitch of the game, but the umpire was not injured.
On May 7, 2011, Meals worked behind the plate for Justin Verlander's second career no-hitter. The umpire's ball four call on J.P. Arencibia in the eighth inning prevented Verlander from achieving a perfect game. However, Verlander later said that he agreed with the call.
Meals and Major League Baseball both acknowledged that he missed a call in the 19th inning of a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Atlanta Braves on July 26, 2011. With respect to length of time, the game was the longest in Pirates history. During the play in question, a ground ball, Pirates catcher Michael McKenry received a throw and appeared to tag Braves runner Julio Lugo three feet in front of home plate but Meals called him safe and the Braves won the game. Meals received criticism for the call and the Pirates issued a public complaint. MLB executive vice president for baseball operations Joe Torre responded to the complaint and officially acknowledged that Meals's call was in error Following the incident, Meals and his family received death threats at their home. Meals' wife reported that their children, who ranged between 14 and 23 at the time of the incident, were also "approached" by irate and confrontational fans, as Pittsburgh is only 70 miles away from the Meals' hometown of Salem, Ohio.
On Saturday, September 8, 2012, Meals incorrectly ruled Mark Teixeira of the New York Yankees out on a game-ending double play at first base against the Baltimore Orioles. If Meals had made the correct call, the game would have been tied, but instead the Orioles won and moved up a game to be even with the Yankees for first in the AL East.
On Monday, July 29, 2013, Meals incorrectly ruled Daniel Nava of the Boston Red Sox out at home plate in the 8th inning against the Tampa Bay Rays which would have tied the game. Instead, the Rays held on to win 2-1. Red Sox manager John Farrell was ejected for arguing the call, which Meals later admitted was incorrect.
At 5'8" tall, Meals and Mark Wegner are the shortest umpires in Major League Baseball.
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- "Justin Verlander tosses second career no-hitter". The Sporting News. May 7, 2011. Retrieved July 19, 2012.
- "MLB acknowledges blown call". ESPN. July 27, 2011. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
- Cox, Chris (July 27, 2011). "Marathon game rewrites record books". mlb.com. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
- Salem grad and umpire Meals says he missed call in Pittsburgh loss
- Passan, Jeff (July 27, 2011). "MLB needs to wake up and expand replay". Yahoo! News Network. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
- Pirates issue statement: Jerry Meals “got this one wrong”
- "MLB acknowledges blown call, The Associated Press (via ESPN.com), July 28, 2011.
- Umpire Jerry Meals' family receives death threats over call
- Feinsand, Mark. "Jerry Meals' blown call in 9th inning dooms Yankees to 5-4 loss against Baltimore Orioles". Retrieved 10 September 2012.
- Reaction to call a sad reflection