The umpire behind the wild and controversial strike call in a Southland Conference baseball game earlier this month apologized Thursday but partially blamed his “lack of judgment” on hostile treatment he received from players and fans.
Umpire Reggie Drummer appeared on “The Plate Meeting” podcast Thursday to talk about the incident during the March 10 game between Mississippi Valley State and New Orleans.
In the ninth inning of that game, after Drummer had already ejected two players and warned both teams, Mississippi Valley State outfielder Davon Mims stepped up to the plate with two outs.
After the count got to 1-1, New Orleans pitcher Trey Usey’s breaking ball missed low and was around Mims’ ankles — but Drummer called it a strike, which prompted a wild reaction from Mims. Drummer let that slide, which led to the infamous strike after Usey’s last pitch was basically in the dirt down-and-away.
Drummer walked off the field immediately after making the call. The Southland Conference suspended him the next day, saying that his actions were a violation of the rulebook.
“I called a bad pitch, which I regret,” he said. “I apologize for doing that, but I just wanted to get out of a hostile environment because I’d never been in a situation like that.”
Drummer said that looking back, he should’ve ejected Mims after the second strike call when he started jumping up and down. Drummer, who is Black, said Mississippi Valley State fans were using racial slurs toward him and verbally abusing him. Mississippi Valley State is a Historically Black College and University.
He said he thought that if the pitch were close, he was going to call it a strike to end the game.
“I should have ejected him when he pointed,” Drummer said. “By this time, my lapse of judgment is through the roof because I was sitting here saying, ‘I can’t believe my own people have treated me like this for three hours.’ And I said to myself … ‘I feel like I’m on an island, and I just want to get out of here.'”
Drummer said he has started working games again after his suspension.
“If I could do it all over, the game probably wouldn’t have finished because Valley wouldn’t have had enough players to be on the field,” he said.
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