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Worst call ever? MLB ump blatantly blows play at first base [VIDEO]

Scott Levin's picture

Tim Welke is one of the most established umpires in Major League Baseball. Wednesday's missed call certainly wasn't his finest moment.

Umpires make mistakes. It is this human element that baseball purists point to as an argument against increased video review. After Wednesday, Los Angeles Dodgers fans may be wishing for challenge flags ala the NFL.

With Los Angeles trailing the Colorado Rockies 2-1 in the top of the 6th inning, Dodgers third baseman Jerry Hairston Jr. stepped to the plate with a man on first and hit a ground ball toward the hole between third and shortstop. Chris Nelson made a diving stop to snare the grounder, hopped to his feet and whizzed a low throw toward first base.

Rockies first baseman Todd Helton is a veteran known for his defensive prowess. But Helton was unable to keep his foot on the bag, instead moving about a yard off the base to keep the ball from getting past him. It appeared Hairston had secured an infield hit and the Dodgers inning would continue with a man now in scoring position.

Not so fast.

Welke, the first base umpire who has worked in four World Series over his 27-year career, was clearly not in a position to see Helton's feet. He deemed Hairston out, and the disbelief was evident from everyone. Even Helton seemed to hesitate before gladly accepting the poor call and heading to the dugout. Hairston watched with a stunned look on his face as Dodgers manager Don Mattingly sprinted onto the field to give Welke a piece of his mind.

Replays and photos clearly showed Helton was well off first base when he received Nelson's throw, a fact recognized immediately by television announcers who sound incredulous in the video below.

The relatively low stakes of the call may keep it from being termed the worst call in MLB history. That distinction is often given to Don Denkinger's infamous mistake in the 1985 World Series.

With the St. Louis Cardinals leading the Kansas City Royals in the series 3-2 and holding a 1-0 lead in the 8th inning of Game 6, Royals leadoff man Jorge Orta hit a grounder to first base. First baseman Jack Clark flipped to pitcher Tim Worrell, who was covering the bag. Orta appeared to be out by at least half a step, but Denkinger ruled him safe. The Royals ended up winning the game 2-1 and taking Game 7 to win the World Series.

Denkinger's life became miserable, as threats poured in from angry Cardinals fans.

Clearly, Welke is in little danger of experiencing the anguish Denkinger went through. While the Rockies won the game 8-5, Welke's call did not directly influence the outcome.

That won't stop Welke's blown call from taking a spot among the worst calls the sport has seen.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
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