Botched call, then umpire reversal helps Red Sox take early lead in World Series Game 1

Big League Stew

BOSTON — It didn't take long for the 2013 World Series to have its first umpiring controversy.

In the bottom of the first inning of Game 1, the Boston Red Sox had runners at first and second base with one out. David Ortiz grounded to second base. It looked like the St. Louis Cardinals had a good chance at a double play with slow-moving Big Papi running.

Matt Carpenter flipped the ball to shortstop Pete Kozma at second base, but Kozma missed the ball as Dustin Pedroia slid into second base. Oddly, second base umpire Dana DeMuth called it an out.

Boos and groans emerged from the Fenway faithful, who saw what the people watching at home saw. Kozma never caught the ball. Not even close. It wasn't dropped on exchange, like the out call would lead us to presume DeMuth was thinking.

Red Sox manager John Farrell rushed out to the field to argue. The umps huddled and we saw something we don't see too often — the crew reversed the call, beckoning Pedroia back to the field.

It’s rare for major league umpires to reverse a call without using video replay, and it’s been extremely rare in baseball history for umpires to reverse themselves in the postseason.

Famously, umpires in 1983 overturned a home run by Kansas City’s George Brett after Yankees manager Billy Martin complained about how much pine tar Brett had used. The umpire’s call was later reversed by the league office, one of only a few times ever that a formally lodged protest has changed an outcome. Brett’s was an extreme case and just a regular season game.

A famous occurrence of umpires reversing themselves in the playoffs happened in the 1980 NLCS, when Vern Ruhle of the Astros thought he had turned a triple play on the Phillies, but umpires huddled and called a trap on a hit by Garry Maddox.

This 2013 reversal made an immediate difference for the Red Sox, as Mike Napoli followed the on-field hubbub with a double to left-center that plated three runs and gave Boston a 3-0 lead.

*Big League Stew's David Brown contributed to this report.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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