MLB Oddities: When Calling Time At The Plate Goes Wrong

By Shaun P Kernahan
John Lester
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

It happens dozens of times a night in every ballpark and at every level. It is hardly even noticed almost every time, but then there are times that can make you laugh, scream, or just plain scratch your head.

What am I talking about? A batter calling time at the plate.

The most common occurrence of calling time gone wrong is a confused pitcher. We have all seen it countless times, the batter asks for time, the ump grants it just as the pitcher is beginning his wind up, pitcher looks up and tries to hold onto the ball and it goes bouncing halfway up one of the baselines.

Everybody chuckles a bit while the pitcher likely mumbles some four letter words towards the umpire for interrupting his pitch, and everyone moves onto the next pitch.

One of my favorite clips was from the old Baseball Bloopers videos I watched as a kid. I don’t remember who was involved, but the umpire had gotten sick of the batter asking for time, decided not to recognize the time called, motioned for the pitcher to throw the ball in, and rung up the batter. Great stuff.

Now, as a Boston Red Sox fan on the West Coast, I typically only get to go to games when they come visit the Los Angeles Angels. One of those Red Sox games I attended was an Easter Sunday game in 2009. Josh Beckett is on the hill for the Red Sox facing Bobby Abreu. Abreu calls and is granted time while Beckett is in his wind up.

Instead of holding onto the ball, Beckett decides to gun it up to the plate up near Abreu’s head. Not surprisingly, the benches cleared and suspensions were handed down.

On Wednesday night, Jon Lester is facing San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley in the first inning. As it always goes, time is called while Lester is beginning his wind up, but instead of throwing the ball over the plate or trying to hold onto the ball, he drills Headley right on the top of his front foot.

Now, it did not seem there was any intent, but again, it was one of those plays where you just have to chuckle … that is until Headley rips a double off the Green Monster later in the at-bat.

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