Local baseball umpire feels MLB ump's pain

Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Major League Baseball umpire Jim Joyce's pain of blowing the call that would have preserved the perfect game for Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga was felt all the way down to Burdis Williams in the River Region.

"I felt for him," said Williams.

Williams is an umpire on the collegiate level. He's called behind the plate and from the field in 5 conferences at places like Mississippi State, Alabama, Auburn and Troy University.

Burdis Williams has been an umpire for some 20 years and he estimates he's made around 15 really bad calls.

"We're humans. We make mistakes," he said.

Joyce admitted he made a mistake and Williams has an idea what went wrong. In the replay video Jim Joyce is standing very close to the foul line behind first base. Williams says the veteran ump probably should have moved over a little to his right to get a better view of the play.

"We're taught to be in position and I'm not sure he was in position," said Williams.

From a fan's perspective, it would seem umpiring a baseball game would be fairly simple.

"I disagree with that," Williams said.

Quite the opposite according to Williams. The job requires thick skin, laser-like focus and consistency in the face of thousands.

And getting back in the game, so to speak, after a blown call is perhaps more difficult in some ways than placing a single up the middle.

"You just move on," said Williams.

The wrong call by Joyce has re-ignited the debate over whether Major League Baseball should expand instant replay. Today it's only allowed to determine whether the ball is a home run or foul. Williams supports expanding it.

In the meantime, as bad as Joyce felt about missing the call at first base, Burdis Williams feels the call should not be overturned.

"You make the call, you stick with the call," Williams said.

All part of being human on the diamond.

Burdis Williams says of all the calls he's missed over the years, none were as dramatic and game-changing as the one Jim Joyce made this week in Detroit.

Even with the scrutiny of having to make quick, split-second decisions, Burdis Williams still dreams of making it to the SEC on the a full time basis.

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