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Umpire Botches Call on Using Helmet to Stay on the Base

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Bizarre scene in the sixth inning of yesterday’s Cubs/Mets game, as Cubbie outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong doubled into the right field corner, removed his helmet for some reason as he was nearing second base, beat the throw, and then “stayed on the base” by holding the aforementioned helmet on the bag as Mets second baseman Joey Wendle applied a late tag. Umpire Carlos Torres signaled that Crow-Armstrong was safe, thus confirming the transitive property of hands and helmets.

As SNY showed a slow-motion replay, the sequence prompted the following discussion in the Mets broadcast booth:

Ron Darling: It’s funny, how he secures the bag. Secures it with his helmet.

Keith Hernandez: Is that cool?

Gary Cohen: I don’t know!

Hernandez: What’s the rule?

Cohen: That’s a really good question.

Hernandez: That is interesting. I’ve never seen that!

Cohen: I know that you can’t use your equipment to pick up a ball. If the catcher takes his mask and scoops the ball, that’s a violation. But can you stay on the base by virtue of holding your helmet against the base? I’ve never seen that before.

Hernandez: I’ve never seen it.

The Cubs’ broadcasters engaged in a nearly identical discussion. But as it turns out, the ump’s call was wrong. Mets roving reporter Steve Gelbs checked in with that news later in the game:

The bad call and the Mets’ failure to challenge it ended up not affecting the outcome of the game, as the next two batters made outs to end the inning, and then the Mets eventually won the game. But it just goes to show that you can watch baseball for your entire life (and write about uniforms for 25 years) and still see something you’ve never seen before.


AMA Reminder

In case you missed it yesterday, the final Uni Watch installment of Ask Me Anything is now available. In addition to the usual range of queries, this time there are lots of questions about my impending departure from Uni Watch, what I’ve seen in my 25 years of uniform writing, and so on.

As usual, this edition of AMA is on Substack and is not paywalled, so it’s available to all. You can check it out here.

Comments (16)

    This was looked at by the folks at Close Call Sports – there’s no explicit rule in the MLB rules which says this is not permissible – but they also suggest that umpires would have the discretion to rule on the field that this was in violation of the spirit of the rule. There *is* an applicable rule for high school and NCAA, though.


    I saw that, and questioned it in my mind. ‘Not really an extension of the body, and perhaps an unfair advantage. But I dismissed it, figuring with all the other dumba** rules they’ve come up with in the past few years, this was nothing…

    Yeah, if you can’t use your ballcap to make a catch, you obviously can’t do this.

    Right? If guys can run around with arm extenders on, this should be legal lol

    Re: oven mitts. Is there a rule limiting their size? Is there a specific measurement it cannot exceed beyond the fingertips? Some of these guys look like they’re wearing flippers! -C.

    The most disappointing thing about all of this is neither of the videos had a clear shot of Crow-Armstrong’s NOB.

    The official MLB rule is that the Cubs baserunner only needed to shout “ELECTRICITY!” while touching the helmet to the base – resulting in him being safe at second.

    we found the salty mets fan who’s still annoyed that the umps were actually right on the call Wednesday. This call was wrong though.

    Interesting case! In cricket runners extend their bat to reach the stumps in order to score a run. But if you cannot use your hat in baseball to catch a ball then you should not be allowed to touch base safely with your helmet.

    *unless the hat/helmet is still on your head.

    If you hold the base with the helmet in its natural place, I think that would be fine. No different than a batting glove or a shoe at that point. It would be hilariously awkward to see some using their head to hold the base.

    Last year a Cardinal player was called out when the fielder touched the gloves in his back pocket -not him, and he was called out. Next time up at bat the gloves were tucked in.

    When we were kids I had my dad’s baseball book (I think Lou Boudreau was on the cover) that included the rules. We referred to it when I tagged out my cousin by tagging his baggy jeans instead of making contact with his leg. According to the rule, he was out.
    So while you can’t use your cap to catch a ball, I think you should be able to stay on base with your helmet.

    I would think that deliberately removing your helmet while in the process of running to base, in and of itself, would be an issue since it can pose a potential hazard to a fielder, whether intentionally on the part of the runner or not.

    FWIW, the MLB rules address if the helmet (or other equipment) is thrown by the runner in an attempt to interfere, but not this case.

    For HS and NCAA, the rules specifically say the helmet cannot be removed even if held on to, which is further than the MLB goes.

    If a runner hitting a HR throws his batting helmet in the air before touching home plate can be called out, HOW is removing it before sliding into 2nd fair?

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