Star-Bulletin Sports

Sunday, February 17, 2002



The game isn’t as simple
as it seems

By Al Chase

Ever wonder what the umpires and coaches discuss when they meet at home plate before a baseball game, especially the first of a series when the meeting takes longer?

There is an exchange of lineups that's visible to the fans sitting in the stadium. Then it's time for the home-plate umpire to go over the ground rules.

Murakami Stadium is an enclosed ball park, except for the dugouts, which have an imaginary demarcation line that is equal to the fence line that runs past the bullpens to the outfield wall.

"The fence also is a demarcation line (so) the same rule applies. If a fielder catches a ball in foul territory, then goes into the dugout, by rule, we have to determine if the player can throw from the dugout," said Gary Montalbo, one of the umpires who works Hawaii games.

"If the player looses footing or body control, then the ball is dead. If he doesn't, even with help of other players, the ball is live. If a player throws from the dugout and the ball hits the dugout roof, the ball is dead."

Montalbo pointed out that the vertical part of the dugout railing that faces the field is in play, but if the ball hits the remainder of the railing, it is a dead ball.

Fans will see the umpire conducting the meeting gesture toward the backstop because there are ground rules covering that.

If the ball hits the vertical metal screen, it remains in play. If it hits the nylon portion that slopes back toward the roof, the ball is dead.

The signage behind home plate that rotates during games has its special rules. If the ball gets lodged in the signage, it is dead. If the ball comes to a rest on top of the structure holding the signage, it is live.

"We go over what happens when a game is halted, usually by weather. Normally, it is a halted game (that can be continued the next day) unless it's getaway night," said Montalbo.

"Finally, we verify the numbers of the players on the lineup cards, the number of players on the card and the designated hitter. After that it's small talk. How was the flight over, stuff like that," said Montalbo.

UH Athletics

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