Umpire Angel Hernandez caught something unexpected in foul territory

Some umpires seem to search for the spotlight, but for others, the spotlight finds them. The spotlight found umpire Angel Hernandez on Thursday while he was behind the plate for the game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Miami Marlins, and he made the very best of it.

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It was the fifth inning and Phillies catcher Andrew Knapp was working with pitcher Jeremy Hellickson to get the third out and end the frame. Martin Prado was batting, and on the 2-2 pitch he popped the ball up and behind him into foul territory. Knapp’s reflexes kicked in and he sprung up, turned around, and whipped off his mask so he could make the catch.

Umpire Angel Hernandez catches Andrew Knapp’s mask on the fly. (
Umpire Angel Hernandez catches Andrew Knapp’s mask on the fly. (

When catchers typically whip off their masks, they toss them to the side so they can have two hands ready to make the catch. But when Knapp tossed his mask, Angel Hernandez was within range. He stuck his hand out and snagged it out of the air, and then tossed it back to Knapp when the catch was made.

It was pretty artful. So artful, in fact, that’s Cut4 thinks that Knapp and Hernandez planned the mask exchange. But Knapp confirmed it was just happenstance.

Awesome indeed. That was a pretty smooth catch from Hernandez, but maybe he was just feeling his oats. Because he had a very eventful day at the Phillies-Marlins game. In the second inning, Phillies outfielder Daniel Nava made a close-to-the-ground catch, but third base umpire Ted Barrett wrongly ruled it a hit. The Phillies were out of challenges, so they couldn’t ask the umpires to review it, but that didn’t stop the scoreboard operators from showing the catch, confirming to the fans that the call was wrong. Well, Hernandez really didn’t like that, and he made his displeasure known.

I’m assuming Hernandez knows that teams are allowed to show plays on the scoreboard, but he probably didn’t like it because it whipped the crowd into a booing frenzy and pointed out the botched call that the Phillies couldn’t challenge.

But there’s more! In the sixth inning, outfielder Michael Saunders slid into home plate, and made a very skilled and sneaky tag of home plate before the catcher’s mitt touched him.

And Angel Hernandez got it right. He called Saunders safe, having somehow seen with his naked eyes that Saunders touched the plate before the tag. That takes some skill, and the Phillies are lucky that Hernandez possesses such skill. The Phillies won the game 3-2, so if Hernandez had called Saunders out they wouldn’t have been able to challenge it (because they were out of challenges). The game could have ended much differently.

So let’s review: In one afternoon Angel Hernandez caught a mask out of thin air, “scolded” the Phillies’ scoreboard operators from the field, and made a great call on a tough play. Could an umpire ask for more excitement?

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on twitter! Follow @lizroscher

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