The Last Great Call(s)

Try to imagine what it's like. Try to imagine being DeMuth and Joyce, umpiring home plate and third base in the ninth inning of a tied World Series game at Busch Stadium. The home team hitting. Winning run on third base. Crowd shrieking. Thousands of hearts pounding like a percussion section. Don't umpires have to get caught up in that, too?

DeMuth: "You don't think about it. You're numb. You go through what you go through every day of your life. In actuality, it is just another game. And the next day is another game. And you can't sit there and think, 'Oh my God. This is a World Series.' I mean, I can't. I can't think of that. ... So when that play happens, you're looking and concentrating so much on that play, that then you're looking for that next step, of 'What is my job?' My job is to see how close this play is at home. And then I have to make a judgment. That's what I was thinking of. And that's what happened. And then you pray that your judgment is correct -- like every play. [Laughs.]"

Joyce: "I think if you talked to all six of us [who umpired that World Series], they'd all say the same thing: Your adrenaline doesn't start pumping until the action starts, or the action finishes -- and that's exactly what happened on the obstruction call. I had no adrenaline going at all when the play happened because there's a play that's off the charts. That does not happen -- very seldom at third base. I've worked three World Series and never had an obstruction, or an interference, for that matter. So it's more your instinct and your experience that kicks in when something like that happens. ... I really don't think our adrenaline started pumping until actually we were inside the locker room, when we realized what had actually transpired, and how unusual, obviously, that was, and that a play like that would occur, of all places, at third base, in a World Series game, to end a World Series game."

DeMuth: "Yeah, that's when it hits you. When you get back in that locker room and you're sitting, and your partners are in there with you. Then Bill Miller and I looked at each other, and Jimmy and I looked at each other, and we said, 'Can you believe that?'"

Joyce: "We got to the locker room, and as we walked through the door, the very first person there was Joe Torre, then [MLB senior vice president] Peter Woodfork, then Randy Marsh, our supervisor. And each one of them, as we walked through, just basically said to us, 'Great job. Excellent. Couldn't have been better. Great, great job, guys.' And it was kind of like that 'wow factor' moment, like the breath was just taken out of you."

DeMuth: "And then you get kind of proud. You go through all your emotions then, when you're in that locker room. And one of the emotions is, 'Wow. What just happened?'"

Even as the umpires try to catch their breath and settle their emotions, their work isn't done because "to sell it afterward is the hard part," Joyce said. "Even though you're 100 percent right on a call like that, to explain it, to try to tell a manager, press, everybody else, that you're right, is the hardest part." So they march to the interview room and explain themselves.

But two men still don't totally understand: the catcher and the third baseman who wound up on the wrong end of it.

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