As sports fans, we often forget, albeit not deliberately, the key role that officials play in their respective leagues and matches. It’s a factor that we pay little attention to unless they’ve made a glaring error or a call that we just don’t like because it doesn’t work well in our team’s favor.
Fortunately, we do, on occasion, applaud officials when they do indeed perform at the highest level. A case in point happened in Game 2 of the World Series when home plate umpire Pat Hoberg called a “perfect game” as the Houston Astros defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 5-2 at Minute Maid Park.
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The match-up between the Astros and the Phillies is balanced on a knife edge, and that makes producing a perfect game very tough indeed.
It is, of course, far harder now, given the advent of technology that can spot errors that the naked eye may have missed, so that makes Hoberg’s achievement all the more impressive.
Indeed, Hoberg almost produced a perfect game earlier in the season when he was 122 for 123, and he is well aware of the pressure out there, especially during the World Series;
“Getting the call is one thing,” Hoberg said.
“I have to go out and perform now and do it to the best of my ability, and hopefully that happens, and we get through the whole series.”
To umpire at the World Series, the highest honor officials can get, and the way in which the 36-year-old found out when he followed up on a missed call from senior vice-president of on-field operations, Michael Hill, may well have eased some of the tension.
Understandably, Hoberg was delighted, and his first stop after hearing the news was to pay a visit to his parents to tell them the monumental news.
“They didn’t know why I just showed up unannounced,” he said.
“It was a really cool moment,” Hoberg said. “My grandparents were there too. We just kind of had a nice little moment as a family.
“I’ve had great support throughout the whole journey from umpire’s school all the way through the minor leagues and all the way through my early big league career from my parents.
“So, that was probably the most excited that I was to share that with them. My dad doesn’t get too emotional too often. But, he got emotional.” Hoberg added.
He spent a long period of time, 371 big-league games, as a replacement fill-in umpire before he got the call and was promoted to the MLB umpiring crew in 2017. He’s now considered one of the best in the business and is known for his consistent performance, especially during high-stakes games.