Though Kill the Umpire was a comedy film from 1950, its themes—one of which is violence towards umpires—are all too real.
On Friday, Texas Rangers catcher Yorvit Torrealba joined an infamous list of players who have punched, struck, spat on or otherwise battered or assaulted umpires during or immediately following a professional baseball game.
Torrealba joins a list of All-Stars and ne'er-do-wells who have committed the cardinal sin of displaying violent conduct against a sports official.
Unfortunately, the list of guilty MLB players and coaches is a lengthy one. From Babe Ruth to Roberto Alomar, Jose Offerman and beyond, many professional baseball players have abhorrently used unjustifiable physical force against an umpire. If the list was expanded to include all sports at all levels, it regrettably might take years to finish reading.
First off, let's be very clear. What Torrealba did when he struck home plate umpire Dario Rivero Jr. during the eighth inning of the Caribes de Anzoategui vs. Leones del Caracas game is a crime.
Admittedly, Torrealba took just one swipe at the arbiter with an open hand, but in the United States, that would be considered battery and Torrealba would be subject to arrest and prosecution—not to mention the fact that using a fist to strike an umpire's face mask is slightly less stupid than striking the umpire to begin with.
Speaking of the United States, 21 states currently augment their battery and/or assault laws with enhanced penalties for committing the crime against a sports official engaged in his or her duties.
Those states are Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware (second or subsequent offense only), California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho*, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, West Virginia and the Rangers' home state of Texas.
However, as professional baseball history indicates, Torrealba will be forgiven for his disgraceful offense.
You may have noticed the words "assault" and "battery" have been paired together above, yet treated as separate offenses. This is because assault and battery often refer to two separate offenses.
As defined by Barron's Law Dictionary, assault is "an attempt or threat, with unlawful force, to inflict bodily injury upon another, accompanied by the apparent present ability to give effect to the attempt if not prevented."
An aggravated assault may occur when a dangerous or deadly weapon is used in conjunction with an attempt or threat to unlawfully strike or harm another.
Barron's Law Dictionary defines battery as "the unlawful application of force to the person of another."
In other words, an assault may occur in the absence of physical contact when only a threat or attempt to inflict harm exists, whereas the element of unwanted touching caused by another person must be present for battery to exist.
The following is a brief record of MLB or MiLB players who have assaulted or battered umpires in the past and the lengths of their MLB- or MiLB-imposed suspensions. This list is not all-inclusive.
*Idaho's assault and battery on sports officials punitive measures derives from Concurrent Resolution No. 32 in March 2011, which states, "local authorities [should] hand out more severe penalties. That would ensure that the fans, especially young children, realize that it is not acceptable to attack an official."