An addendum to the Zane Carlson anecdote in the last post. Baylor coach Steve Smith came by while we were eating dinner in the media lounge, and he recalled a Big 12 Tournament game against Texas in 2003–two years after Carlson’s wild pitch ended Baylor’s season–when he went out to the mound and ordered Carlson to intentionally walk a batter in eighth inning with a runner on third base and the score tied. As he walked back to the dugout, he thought, “That was the dumbest thing I’ve ever done.”
As the catcher set up to receive the free pass, the umpire stood directly behind the plate and took his mask off. Carlson proceeded to throw a strike right down the middle, passing through the umpire’s legs and nearly hitting him in the crotch. The go-ahead run scored from third base, and Texas went on to win. And the petrified umpire didn’t even call the pitch a strike, even though it was right over the heart of the zone.
“The umpire was asking for trouble when he took his mask off,” Smith said.