Moore: Calls for expanded replay in MLB go back decades

From Jack Moore at Sports on Earth on October 26, 2013:

“Thank God for NBC!” Sparky Anderson yelled from the dugout.

It was Sept. 2, 1974, and Anderson’s second baseman Joe Morgan was just called out at home to squelch a Reds rally in a game they would go on to lose 4-3. After Tony Perez struck out to end the inning, Anderson checked a monitor in the dugout. NBC’s instant replay showed Morgan clearly touched the plate before Astros catcher Milt May applied the tag. So Anderson did what he did best: He yelled, and he was swiftly ejected by home plate umpire Jerry Dale.

If Anderson wasn’t quite the first to angrily advocate for the use of instant replay by the umpires, he was among them. Instant replay technology didn’t exist until 1955, when Hockey Night in Canada first used it. Its first appearance in America was possibly in an Army-Navy college football game in 1963. By the 1970s, replay became an integral part of the sports broadcast.

The profession of umpiring would never be the same. As much as the pre-replay Sparkys of the world knew they were right and the umpire was a fool, proof wouldn’t exist until the morning’s papers.

Consider this example from Game 4 of the 1969 World Series between the Orioles and the Mets. In the 10th inning, Mets catcher J.C. Martin laid a bunt down between the first base line and the pitcher’s mound. Orioles pitcher Pete Richert fielded the ball and threw to first, but hit Martin in the wrist. The rest, from the October 1972 issue of Baseball Digest:

“The ball rolled off between first and second. While Johnson was desperately trying to retrieve it, Gaspar crossed the plate to score the winning run and give the Mets a three-game-to-one edge in the series.

“The Orioles aroused a storm, insisting to plate umpire [Shag] Crawford and first base umpire John DiMuro that Martin had illegally left the basepath and should have been called out for interference.

“Newspaper photographs the next day proved Martin had left the basepath.”

Crawford admitted the next day he missed the call, but by that point nothing could be done.

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Originally published: October 28, 2013. Last Updated: October 28, 2013.