I had something happen to me in a game that has never occurred in all the years I’ve been umpiring. It’s a teachable situation. R1 and R2. I’m in the “C” position and there is a ground ball hit directly at me not real hard, but not to soft. I step up and chest the ball and as I open my gate still chesting the ball the SS is running in directly toward me fielding the ball on one hop and in one motion is setting to throw to first. He is about 8 feet from me and I am in direct line of his throw. I have no where to go so I bend down and try to watch the release but in fear of getting hit with the throw I duck and actually wince in fear of getting hit in the back of my head and take my eyes off of the release at the last second. The SS fakes the throw to first and turns and throws to second. By the time I realize he didn’t throw to first and I turn around and see the back end of a tag at second. This happened all within 2-3 seconds. I clearly did not see what happened at second and have no recourse but to call the runner safe. By the immediate reaction of the defensive team I knew right away that I kicked the call. I was hoping my plate partner saw the play. I called time and consulted with him and told him I flat out missed it and asked if he saw it. He did and said the runner rounded second and was tagged off the base. We got the play right and called the runner out.
I felt I did everything technically proper, but I should have squatted with my head turned the best I could and watch the release. It’s not a very easy position to put oneself into but by not watching the release I missed the entire play.
The teachable moment here is you can never take your eyes off the ball for one second because it can explode on you that fast. In the end we got the call right but it certainly did not look good!