October 1, 2009

Fake Umpires At Fenway

Just before the first pitch of Tuesday's game at Fenway Park, I saw someone in the front row behind the backstop screen also put on an umpire's mask.

He and his friend were often out of the TV frame, but when right-handed hitters were batting, you could sometimes see them, mimicking (or shadowing) the home plate umpire's every move and utterance -- every strike call and foul tip, putting up fingers to indicate the count to the pitcher, checking with the foul line umps on checked swings, even reaching into their pockets for a new baseball.

What the hell?

Tim Williams and Joe Farrell are traders at the Toronto Stock Exchange and Blue Jays season-ticket holders. According to a June article at Fanhouse:
Williams and Farrell have authentic umpire uniforms. They have the short-brimmed hats, the official major league umpire shirts with numbers stitched on the sleeves, gray slacks, masks (which they only don when the Jays are pitching), clickers to track the count, brushes to clear dirt off of home plate and ball bags saddled to their right hips.
The uniforms are apparently next to impossible to get. They were able to procure them with some assistance from some MLB umps they met at a steakhouse. The Toronto Star profiled them in May. More info here.

Some video of the NESN feed is here (though MLB will likely get it pulled soon).

Also: Jere has another short clip.

There are 7 billion people on the planet. Do you know how many of them travel to another city to fake umpire a game? You're looking at 'em.

Up here in Ontario, we were stuck with Buffyvision. Did NESN spend much time showing these guys? It seems like the kind of thing that would keep Don and Jerry in giggles for innings, especially considering how the series went.


tim said...

I first noticed this in Washington when the Jays were playing the Natinals back in June or something.

I don't mind it, find it to be a few laughs. But, I am a fan of shit disturbances.

Thanks for the background info/story!

Kathryn said...

I think they were at the Giants/Rockies game that I went to in SF a few weeks back. If it wasn't them, they have some impersonators out there too. They seem to procure the best seats. In SF, they were in the Lexus dugout seats right behind home plate at field level.

Yes, Don and Remy talked about them a lot and were quite entertained by them. They noted, "We have a six man crew tonight in preparation for the playoffs." It was funny.

Rob said...

I seriously thought Don and Remy were going to gab about them all game, but they didn't even notice them until the third inning. They giggled and joked for a couple minutes then went back to the game. They revisited them later in the game a couple of times but it really wasn't as much of a giggle-fest as you'd imagine it could be.

I first heard of them when they attended a game in Oakland. They showed them on Sportscenter.

FenFan said...

I had seen them a few times late this season but knew nothing else about them. Thanks for the info, redsock - nice work (as usual)!

allan said...

Note: L found the Fanhouse article and Youtube clip during the game.

They did go to Oakland, but it seems like they do only Jays games (though maybe not). For an early July series at the Toilet, YES actually arranged for them to sit behind the screen (after being amused during a series at Skydome).

laura k said...

Thanks! Now I won't have to sue you for plagiarism!