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Mudville: July 19, 2024 5:09 am PDT

Dale Scott II

"I have to give Bautista credit because he did not go down."

When you’re as accomplished as an umpire as Dale Scott, you’re bound to be involved in some historical games and moments. But when you look at Scott’s resume, even under that pretense, it is simply mind boggling.

Scott is just one of 20 umpires ever to have worked at least 90 postseason games, so he was witness to some of the game’s biggest moments.

Remember when Luis Gonzalez blooped a walkoff hit in Game 7 off Mariano Rivera to deliver a World Series to the Arizona Diamondbacks? That went right over Scott’s head. How about the Jeffrey Maier game? Scott was the first base umpire for that.

When the Red Sox broke their World Series curse in 2004, Scott was on the plate for Game 2 of the World Series. He was also on the plate for arguably the biggest “first pitch” in baseball history. That was Game 3 of the 2001 World Series when George Bush famously fired a strike from the mound in the first World Series game back at Yankee Stadium two months to the day of the 9/11 attacks.

Are you wondering if Scott worked any no-hitters? Of course he has. Scott was behind the plate for Andy Hawkins’ no-hitter loss, Scott Erickson’s no-no and was on the basepaths for two of Justin Verlander’s no-hitters.

Scott also worked games that had other interesting occurrences, for lack of a better phrase. He was the last person to eject Billy Martin, was at third base when Gary Gaetti started two around-the-horn triple plays in the same game and was on the game for both Jose Bautista’s famous bat flip as well as Rougned Odor’s right-cross of retaliation to Bautista’s jaw the next season.

He worked three All-Star Games, including the 2001 game which turned out to be the game where Alex Rodriguez gave his shortstop position to Cal Ripken in the Iron Man’s final All-Star Game. It was also Tony Gwynn’s last All-Star Game as well.

As an umpire, these type of highlights only come from being consistently outstanding for a long period of time. Think decades of excellence.

His resume can go on for pages, but we’re better off letting him tell the stories himself, so join us as we revisit some incredible baseball moments as we go Spitballin’ with Dale Scott!

As an umpire, we’re not rooting for anyone, but if you do get to call a no-hitter, it’s kinda cool.

Thanks for joining us again, Mr. Scott. It’s understandable that when someone has the career that you did you would have worked in some memorable games, but I just can’t believe how many truly iconic games you were a major part of! I wanted to dedicate this week’s Spitballin’ to some of those memorable games. Let’s start off with one I remember vividly from my childhood. The Andy Hawkins no-hitter loss in 1990. You worked home plate in that game. Take us back.

There are times that you’re so focused on the game and you’ll look up around the fifth inning and think, “Oh my God, they haven’t gotten a hit yet.” That’s not really what you’re paying attention to, but sometimes you’ll realize it. That was a day game on July 1 and it happened to be on the anniversary of Comiskey Park. There was no score for the entire game really and it was 0-0 going into the eighth. It’s a no-win situation as a home plate umpire. If the pitcher throws one close and it’s a ball, they’re screaming at you that you’re squeezing him in a no-hitter. If it’s close and called a strike, you hear that you’re just giving him the calls. You just have to go one pitch at a time.

It was the bottom of the eighth and the White Sox hadn’t gotten a hit, so it was anybody’s game. That eighth inning was insane. The first two guys popped out so it was two outs and nobody on. Then the Yankees made three errors and gave up four runs without a hit. Now it was just on the White Sox to shut down the Yankees for the win. I’m saying to myself that this was kind of wild! At the time, it was ruled an eight-inning no-hitter loss, which is even more rare than a no-hitter. Then they changed the no-hitter rule that winter and took it away.

You were a part of a few other no-hitters after that both behind the plate and in the field. Could you tell us about those?

I got my no-hitter behind the plate in 1994. Scott Erickson no-hit Milwaukee in the Metrodome that April. I was on the bases for two of Justin Verlander’s no-hitters and then a combined no-hitter by the Mariners. It’s funny, four games before that first Verlander no hitter Ron Kulpa was on the plate for a game where Curt Schilling took a perfect game into the ninth inning, but it got broken up with two outs. As we were walking off the field that night, Kulpa said, “Man, I thought I was going to have my first no-hitter and maybe even a perfect game.” I said to him that you never know when you’ll get one. His very next time on the plate four days later was the Justin Verlander no-hitter. As an umpire, we’re not rooting for anyone, but if you do get to call a no-hitter, it’s kinda cool.

Umpire Dale Scott works home plate during the game between the New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum on Sunday, June 15, 2014 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Brad Mangin/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Wow, that’s unbelievable! You had the chance to work three All-Star Games. 1993, 2001 and 2011. What is it like for an umpire to be asked to work an All-Star Game and what are your favorite memories from those games?

The All-Star Game is a lot of fun. It’s like the Super Bowl in that they know where it’s at years in advance, so they have their big parties with all the corporate sponsors, and they throw a pretty damn good party. The World Series you don’t know where it’s going to be, so MLB uses [All-Star Weekend] as a big party.

The 1993 game was the first special event I worked, so that stands out. In 2001 it had been eight years since I worked it and it was scheduled for Seattle that year, and I am from the Pacific Northwest. I was hoping to get that one and I did. A lot of times they will try to assign umpires if it’s their hometown, so I got that Seattle one and it was great. In 2009, St. Louis had the All-Star Game and then the next two were Anaheim and Phoenix. When they were putting together the list for assignments, the supervisor called me and asked if I wanted to be considered for the game in St. Louis. I told him, “No.” St. Louis is a great place for an All-Star Game, that city is rabid for baseball, but I knew the next two were on the West Coast and I said that if I was going to be considered for the All-Star Game, I would love for it to be one of the West Coast ones and I got the game in Phoenix.

I’m sure each one was such a great experience. You worked a ton of postseason games, which says a lot not only about your longevity, but also your performance and the respect you had around the game. One of the ones that stood out to me was the 2001 World Series. You were on home plate for Game 3, which was the first game in New York after 9/11. There’s a lot to talk about there. Let’s start with just getting to the stadium and the security that was in place. What was that like?

The country and New York was still in shock. It was eight weeks to the day from 9/11 and Yankee Stadium was only 14 miles from Ground Zero. The first two games were in Arizona and then we went back to New York. MLB security does a really good job in all the stadiums and Yankee Stadium was always one of the best, but that night I had never seen anything like that. It was the safest place on earth.

At old Yankee Stadium, we entered through the press gate and they knew who we were. On a normal game, we just said hello and walked through. Then there was a staircase with a security guard at the bottom. Then there were two long hallways and then you took a right and that’s where the Yankees clubhouse was. There were always a few of security people there. Then the umpire room was about 50 yards ahead with a security guard there. From the press gate on a normal game, you might see about five security guards from the press gate to the umpire room. The night of the World Series game though, we had to go through metal detectors. Then we had to show our credentials to the guys who have known you for years. Then there were guards stationed every 15 feet or so down those long hallways. The Yankee clubhouse had about 15 security guards outside of it and then we had two or three outside our room.

(Original Caption) Fighting words: Sparky Anderson, Detroit manager, (left) and Lance Parrish, Tigers' star catcher, didn't see eye-to-eye with rookie umpire Dale Scott yesterday, and both were ejected for their protests against what they thought were bad calls. Anderson was tossed out in the fifth inning, Parrish in the sixth. The Jays let their bats do the talking and won, 9-6. (Photo by Colin McConnell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

That’s crazy, but understandable. That was just getting into the stadium. What were things like once you got to your room and had to prepare for the game?

Me and Jimmy Joyce were the first two umpires to get there. When we went in our room, there was a gentleman sitting there and we had no idea who he was. He introduced himself and was Secret Service. He told us he was going to put on an umpire uniform and go out on the field with us. They also had some Secret Service guys in grounds crew uniforms. We saw him getting dressed and underneath his uniform, he had a bullet proof vest, a gun, a taser, handcuffs, the communication device in his ear. He told us that they had a portable operating room set up in the stadium and they had preparations in place if there was a dirty bomb. They had snipers all over. It was unbelievably secure.

That’s pretty scary stuff, but all needed. That was the game President Bush famously threw out the first pitch. Did you get to meet the President that night?

Yes, I did. That Secret Service guy had his earpiece in and he’d get communications and give us updates like, “The President has left the White House,” or “The President is on Air Force One.” We had to walk out on the field around 8:20 and we didn’t know if the President was coming by our room or not. I had actually met George W. Bush when he was with the Rangers. Most stadiums have umpire rooms with close access to the field and they’re very secure, so that’s where they usually stage the President anyway.

The Secret Service man told us the President would be in the room at 7:58. I had gone back to use the restroom and heard a commotion out through the door and it was obvious that the President had arrived. He had his own contingent of Secret Service guys and they came in first to see who was in the room. I was at the urinal and one of the guys walked in, and I had my back to him, and he said, “You have a visitor.”

Catcher Miguel Montero #26 of the Arizona Diamondbacks catches a pitch against the Houston Astros while being watched by home plate umpire Dale Scott #5 at Chase Field on August 11, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. Arizona won 8-5. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

What was your interaction with him like that night?

By the time I came out, the President had introduced himself and shook everybody’s hands. When he was owner of the Rangers and sometimes when he was Governor, he always sat right behind home plate where the ball boys were. Sometimes after half innings, I would walk over to the ball boy and grab a couple of balls for my bag. George Bush would say, “Hey Dale, looks like you’re sweating a little!” I would say, “Well, yeah. It is July in Arlington!” Anyway, that night in Yankee Stadium, I reached out to shake his hand and said, “Hello Mr. President, Dale Scott.” He said, “Dale! I remember you! You’re the one that’s always sweating!”

Pretty amazing he remembered that kind of stuff! Did you guys get to spend some time with him or was it just a quick introduction?

We were able to talk. He saw my hat and said he didn’t realize I was an Oregon fan. He asked me how the Ducks were going to do that year. The week before, I was at the game and they had lost to Stanford. It was pretty depressing. I told him I had been expecting a good season, but they had just lost to Stanford. He said, “Don’t worry about it, the Ducks are going to do great.” They ended up #2 in the country that year and won the Fiesta Bowl!

President Bush took time to sign about two dozen baseballs. Sandy Alderson was there and they had known each other for a while. They were talking pretty casually. Jimmy Joyce had a video camera and asked if he could tape it for his son because he couldn’t make the trip. The President asked what his son’s name was and it was Jimmy too. President Bush said, “Jimmy! Take some advice from the President! Always listen to your mother!”

I’m sure our Editor-in-Chief Chris Vitali won’t like me bringing this up, but jumping ahead to Game 7 and Luis Gonzalez’s walk-off hit against Mariano Rivera essentially was hit directly at you as the second base umpire. Talk about having a front row seat to Major League history! Can you take us through that play?

The Yankees were up 2-1 going to the bottom of the ninth and Mariano Rivera was coming in, so game over, right? I was at second base, so to be able to see that walkoff in the bottom of the ninth against Mariano was insane. The funny thing is that if the infield wasn’t in, I would have called an infield fly. But they had no choice; they had to play in. The ball went right over my head. It was just a little dink base hit, but it was amazing. From where I was at, as soon as he hit it, I knew the game was over. I knew where the infielders were playing and I was behind them. My responsibility was making sure the runner at first touched second. The Diamondbacks came streaking out of the dugout and as I was running off the field, Bob Brenly was running out towards first base and for a split second in all the mayhem, we made eye contact. It was just a fleeting moment in time, but I won’t forget that look of joy on his face. From our perspective, we were happy too because the Series was over and there wasn’t any controversy.

You were pretty intimately involved with the Jose Bautista bat flip game and ensuing repercussions. It’s amazing you worked both incidents. You had to anticipate something was going to happen the next year, right?

I was on home plate for that game [Game 5, 2015 ALDS] and the insane seventh inning. The next year, we had the Jays at the Rangers in May. They had met three weeks before in Toronto and the last time they were meeting was the series in May that we worked. When we got our schedule, I told my guys, “Hey look at this. We’re gonna have to strap it on for this series.” I remember saying that they only met twice and hopefully they’d get everything out of their systems the first series they play. We knew Bautista was going to go down at some point. They didn’t do anything the first series; it was like church. They were saving it for our series.

And boy did they ever save it for that series. Take us through that craziness!

Going into that game, we were talking about being ready. This was the last game they were playing against each other that year. Dan Iassogna was on home plate and he had run John Gibbons earlier in the game for arguing strikes. I had run the first base coach for Toronto for a balk that he was making up in his head. It got into the top of the eighth and we were like, “Ok, when is this gonna happen?”

Sure as heck, Bautista led off and this was setup perfectly. He got drilled and it wasn’t vicious or at his head, but he was pissed. The warnings ensued and we hoped that was it. Edwin Encarnacion flew out and Bautista was still going on about being hit. I was like, “Dude, you had to know this was coming!” I was thinking that as long as we didn’t get a double play ball or something where he had to go first-to-third, we’d be out of it. No such luck.

No such luck indeed. So you were at first base, did you have a good look at what went down at second base or were you preparing for the call at first?

Justin Smoak was the next batter and of course he hits a double play ball. That was the opportunity for Bautista to do something. Odor got the throw off before Bautista took him out, but the throw was wild. It was a live ball and went into shallow right field, so I didn’t see the punch because I was following the ball. As I was following the ball, I saw the Rangers come pouring out of the dugout out of my peripheral. So I thought, “OK, maybe the ball isn’t that important right now.” I saw the video of Odor’s punch later and it was insane. We ejected something like eight players. Throughout my career, I saw a lot of baseball fights and they were usually just a do-si-do, but this was vicious. I have to give Bautista credit because he did not go down.

Was that the craziest melee you saw in a game that you worked?

In 1994, it was Oakland vs. Milwaukee in the second game of a doubleheader. I had the plate and there was a brawl. Dennis Eckersley blew a save so we went into extra innings. As Eckersley came off the mound he called me the “c-word” and spit at me. I ejected him and Tony LaRussa and we were having a pretty good shithouse. The Brewers manager was Phil Garner and he was like, “What’s going on? Let’s get this going!” There were some guys out of each dugout yelling too. The A’s had this guy, Troy Neel, huge guy who played linebacker for Texas A & M and he went sprinting towards Dickie Thon and Dave Nilsson and took both of them out. Me and my partner Rocky Roe weren’t getting in the middle of that, so we were taking numbers and watching what was happening. BJ Surhoff was off to the side and we saw Edwin Nunez just absolutely deck him. The Odor hit and that one were the two most vicious hits I had seen in baseball fights and I saw more than a few,

You have worked so many incredible games and I am sure you’re asked about them all the time. Are there any games that you don’t get asked about frequently that you look back on as some of your more memorable games?

I was working a game in 1991 with the Twins at Fenway Park and the Twins turned two triple plays! I was the third base umpire and in the fourth inning, the Red Sox had the bases loaded with no outs. Gary Gaetti was playing third and he looked at me and the third base coach and said, “Ground ball to me, triple play.” The very next pitch, they hit a grounder to him and he turns a triple play. The Twins dugout was right there on the third base side, so he was running off the field yelling at us, “I told you!” About three innings later, it was first and second with no outs. Gaetti looked at us and goes, “Well, I did it once, let’s do it again!” We all laughed. Again, the next pitch, the same exact play! Third to second to first, the exact same triple play! And now he was really giving us the business when he was running off the field. I said, “Hey, do you have any Power Ball numbers by any chance?” It’s still the only time that has ever happened in a game.

Dale Scott was a Major League Baseball umpire for 32 years. His book, The Umpire is Out: Calling the Game and Living My True Self has been widely praised by baseball people and literary critics. It is available in print and on audiobook through www.umpiredalescott.com or anywhere books are sold. 

Rocco is a baseball writer with too much time on his hands who lives in the dusty corners of Baseball Reference. He was one half of the battery for the 1986 Belleville Recreation Farm League Champion Indians. He likes early 20th century baseball nicknames, pullover polyester jerseys and Old Hoss Radbourn. He works as a College Athletics Director and his second book was released in April of 2021.

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