Schechter: A not-so-instant replay of Lombardi’s Snooze

From SABR member Gabriel Schechter at The National Pastime Museum on May 22, 2014:

As we enter baseball’s “Replay Era,” it is worth emphasizing that the essence of using “instant replay” is the desire to see exactly what the heck just happened. From watching replays on television, we have learned that even though baseball action is slow compared to “continuous action” sports like hockey and basketball, it still often moves too quickly for even the closest observers to follow.

Sanctioning widespread use of instant replay will allow all of us at least the possibility of determining the actual result of a given play. Managers, players, reporters, and fans will no longer have to accept as gospel the split-second judgment of an umpire whose view of a play may have been blocked, who wasn’t able to get to the optimal position for making the call, or who simply missed the call.

Here, I would like to use not-so-instant replay not to get a call right but to resurrect a great player’s reputation. “Lombardi’s Snooze,” the infamous play in the final inning of the 1939 World Series sweep by the Yankees over the Reds, when Joe DiMaggio circled the bases while catcher Ernie Lombardi failed to retrieve a dropped throw soon enough to tag him, remained a black cloud over Lombardi’s head for the rest of his life. What actually happened on that play?

After finishing my earlier article on Lombardi, I saw footage of the play for the first time, thanks to the MLB Network’s fine compilation of 50 great “Plays at the Plate.” It ranked No. 8 all-time, 75 years after it occurred. Having now watched the footage dozens of times, in slow motion and frame by frame, I can report that it is an eye-opener in many respects.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: May 22, 2014. Last Updated: May 22, 2014.