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Big League Stew

St. Paul Saints to replace umpires with judge and jury during May 11 exhibition game

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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Slightly altered AP Photos.

I would speculate this was motivated by Brian O'Nora's little accident Friday night in New York, but the St. Paul Saints had already issued their press release earlier on Friday.

For their May 11 exhibition game against the Gary SouthShore Railcats, the well known independent baseball team will not be bringing in umpires.

That's right, it'll be an "umpireless" baseball game, which means they won't be bringing in those robots everybody has been clamoring for over the past several years either. Instead, the Saints will employ a judge — gavel, robe and all — to stand behind the pitcher calling balls and strikes. There will also be a jury comprised of 12 Little Leaguers along each side of the field that will decide on plays in the field.

Seriously. They're really doing this.

Here's a little more from the team's official press release:

In this unique twist a judge in a robe will stand behind the pitcher’s mound calling ball and strikes strikes while a jury of both teams “peers” will act as the base umpires. The Killebrew Box Seats, which are designated seating areas on the first and third base side at field level, will have 12 Little Leaguers in each area deciding if runners are safe or out. There will be no hung jury, as majority will rule, but any ties will be decided by the judge on the field.

Instead of “Play Ball” hollered by an umpire, the judge will pound a gavel on home plate to signify the beginning of the game. The players on the field will not be the only ones who will have a judge and jury preside over the proceedings. Fans will have an opportunity to take their disputes to a “judge” that will be set up on the walkway in the main seating bowl of the stadium.

Sometimes these unique promotions can be a bit much, but I really appreciate when a team goes all the way with it. Based on the details, it seems the Saints will be pulling out of the stops to make Midway Stadium feel like a courthouse on May 11.

Now, if we can only get the managers to dress like lawyers and give them two or three opportunities to plead their case on a ruling, they'd really have this one nailed. Maybe they can still make that happen. Regardless, the game is scheduled for a 7:35 p.m. local time first pitch, and tickets are already on sale if we've piqued your interest.

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