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Raul Mondesi, Jr. Misses Home Plate, Recalls Memories of Merkle's Mistake

PITTSBURGH - MAY 9:  An umpire cleans the plate during the game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 9, 2004 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania . The Dodgers won 9-7.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
Gil ImberAnalyst IIJune 26, 2012

Raul Mondesi, Jr. might want to take a few baseball lessons from his famous father, the former Dodger great by the same name.

When it comes to walk-off wins, the idea is for the home team to celebrate, not the other way around. 

After smacking an 0-1 curveball from Missoula Osprey pitcher Dexter Price for an apparent game-tying home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, Helena Brewers prospect Raul Mondesi, Jr. inexplicably forgot to touch home plate, a huge gaffe observed by Osprey catcher Michael Perez and home plate umpire Blake Mickelson.

After Mickelson put a new ball into play, Perez motioned for his pitcher to throw him the baseball, turning to the umpire and appealing for the man in black to ring Mondesi up for the most improbable of base-running mistakes.

A home plate umpire's bond with home plate is special. Umpires spend a considerable amount of time studying the precise dimensions of the 17"-wide dish, they brush and wipe it clean throughout the game and rule every pitch in relation to whether it has passed over home plate.

And when asked, umpires are quick to discipline a runner for failing to touch home plate when required to do so.

Helena manager Jeff Isom was in shock: "On any home run, the umpire has one job and that's to watch the plate and make sure the runners touch it. He said [Mondesi] missed it by eight inches."

Game over, Missoula wins, 2-1.

As the great Vin Scully said about Kirk Gibson's 1988 home run in Game 1 of the World Series, "The impossible has happened."

Official Baseball Rule Rule 7.10(d)—used by minor league ball in addition to MLB—covers appeal plays in regards to missed bases:

Any runner shall be called out, on appeal, when ... He fails to touch home base and makes no attempt to return to that base, and home base is tagged.

Ouch.

At least Mondesi, Jr. has some company.

In 1908, Giants rookie Fred Merkle famously forgot to touch second base on an apparent walk-off base hit. Merkle, the runner on first at the time, was forced to touch second base by virtue of batter Moose McCormick becoming a runner, so when Merkle inexplicably drifted off the base path to go celebrate with his team, outfielder Solly Hofman and Hall of Famer Johnny Evers saw what was happening and facilitated an appeal.

Umpire Hank O'Day obliged and ruled Merkle out for missing the base, effectively wiping out the game-winning run and resulting in a walk-off tie.

When the game was replayed to determine a winner, the Cubs won the contest, eventually finishing just one game ahead of the Giants for the NL pennant.  

Maybe it's a teenager thing; Merkle was 19-years-old when he committed his bonehead play, famously known as "Merkle's Boner". After all, Mondesi, Jr. is also 19-years of age.

As Isom instructed his team, "From now on, make sure you jump on the plate on a homer." Just hopefully not so hard that you break your ankle in the ensuing celebration a la Angels stud Kendrys Morales.

 

Gil Imber is Bleacher Report's Rules Featured Columnist and owner of Close Call Sports, a website dedicated to the objective and fair analysis of close or controversial calls in sports.

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