Ranking the Most Heated Pitcher-Umpire Confrontations in MLB History

Chris Stephens@@chris_stephens6Correspondent IIApril 29, 2013

Ranking the Most Heated Pitcher-Umpire Confrontations in MLB History

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    Everyone loves a good confrontation in Major League Baseball.

    Sunday gave fans another showing as Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price and home-plate umpire Tom Hallion had a war of words on and off the field.

    Price thought he had thrown strike three to DeWayne Wise to end the seventh, but Hallion called it a ball. Then, after getting Wise to ground out on the next pitch, the war of words ensued.

    ...Price and Hallion exchanged words as Price walked to the dugout.

    Hallion, the crew chief, walked toward Price as the two appeared to be yelling at each other.

    Price said Hallion told him to throw the (expletive) ball over the plate, while Hallion disputes that claim.

    While we may never know the exact words, it does bring up memories of other confrontations.

    Here's a look at the most heated umpire-pitcher confrontations in MLB history.

5. He Was Already Leaving the Game

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    Some players take exception to an umpire's calls. Then, there are some players who voice their displeasure.

    Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Teddy Higuera was having a rough go of it on July 26, 1987.

    As he was being taken out of the game, Higuera had a few words for umpire Rick Reed, who promptly tossed him from the game.

    As Brewers manager Tom Trebelhorn said, "Teddy got what he wanted. You've got to want to get ejected. You've got to work at it, and Teddy did."

    I always find it odd when an umpire tosses a pitcher as they're being taken out of the game. What's the point?

4. Joe Niekro Tries to Be Slick

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    We've all heard of pitchers trying to be slick when they doctor the ball.

    However, Minnesota Twins pitcher Joe Niekro took it one step further when he was suspected of doctoring the ball against the then-California Angels.

    When umpires came out to check, they looked at his glove and then asked him to empty his pockets.

    Slyly, Niekro emptied his back pockets, tossing an emery board from his right-back pocket onto the ground, which the umpires immediately noticed.

    Tim Tschida had no choice but to throw Niekro out of the game.

3. Breaking Up the Perfect Game

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    Umpires are generally the first to be blamed when something doesn't happen the way it should.

    However, on Sept. 2, 1972, Bruce Froemming became a part of history.

    Chicago Cubs pitcher Milt Pappas had a perfect game with two outs and a 1-2 count in the ninth inning.

    Pappas eventually walked the hitter and completed the no-hitter later.

    Whether it was Froemming's or Pappas' fault, is debatable.

    But to come within one strike of a perfect game only to lose it on a walk has to sting both.

2. Al Hrabosky

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    The confrontation between Al Hrabosky and umpire Bob Engel was one of the most hilarious in the history of confrontations between pitchers and umpires.

    Hrabosky was pitching for the Atlanta Braves and rejected a ball thrown out by Engel, saying it felt like a grapefruit.

    After Hrabosky received a ball from Engel, the umpire decided to throw another ball out there and Hrabosky rolled his to the umpire.

    Without missing a beat, Engel threw another ball out to Hrabosky as both pitcher and umpire were in a standoff.

    Eventually the game got going, but not without a little more controversy.

    The next pitch was a ball (the third of the count), but Reggie Smith took first base. Engel didn't dispute it saying, "How would I know, you had balls all over the place."

    Smith was eventually recalled and struck out on the next pitch.

1. Breaking Up a Perfect Game Times Two

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    Jim Joyce is one of the best umpires in all of baseball.

    However, one moment that will live on in history (and haunt him forever) is his missed call on June 2, 2010, in which he called a runner safe at first when he was clearly out.

    That call cost Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game as it would have been the 27th out.

    While umpires are only human and make a bad call from time to time, the fact that it was in that situation is what angered fans and players the most.

    However, what Joyce did afterwards showed why he is one of the best umpires in the game.

    Going back to see the replay after the game was over, Joyce saw that he made the wrong call.

    But he didn't stop there. He admitted it in an interview with the press and apologized to Galarraga and the Tigers.

    It may be one of the biggest controversies between a pitcher and umpire, but what Joyce did showed his true character.

    And Galarraga accepted that apology, which makes the story that much better.