Umpire speaks about controversial call in Valley-UNO game
Published 4:48 pm Friday, March 31, 2023
Reggie Drummer, the umpire who was suspended for his controversial game-ending strike call in a college baseball game between Mississippi Valley State and New Orleans on March 10, has spoken out about the incident.
In an interview with the “Plate Meeting” podcast, Drummer said a series of escalating incidents throughout the game — including racial slurs uttered by Valley’s players, coaches and fans — caused him to lose his composure.
Drummer is Black, as are most of the players for Mississippi Valley State, a historically black college.
Drummer said several calls that went against Valley earlier in the game resulted in the school’s fans and players yelling abusive and racist comments at him.
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Drummer ejected two Valley players during the game, as well as one fan. Drummer said in hindsight he “probably would have” ejected several more, as well as Valley head coach Milton Barney and fans, to better control the situation.
With two outs in the ninth inning, Davon Mims — a Warren Central alum — reacted to a called second strike by jumping out of the box and pointing toward the plate with his bat. Drummer said he should have warned or ejected Mims for the outburst, but instead just wanted to get the game over with after enduring several hours of verbal abuse.
“I was hurting. Before the last pitch even happened, I should have gave him a warning for that and I should have ejected him when he pointed,” Drummer said. “By this time, my lapse in judgment was through the roof because I was sitting there saying my own people have treated me like this for three hours. I said if this pitch is anywhere around the plate, I’m calling it a strike so we can get off the field.”
The controversial third strike was a pitch that broke low and away from the right-handed Mims, and was clearly out of the strike zone to give New Orleans a 7-3 win. Mims had to be restrained by catcher Jorge Tejada as he argued the call.
“I never meant for it to look like it was on purpose. I called a bad pitch, which I regret. I apologize for doing that,” Drummer said. “But I just wanted to get out of a hostile environment because I had never been in a situation like that. Fans are going to chirp, and fans are going to be fans, but never was racism involved. Never. I wasn’t trying to say, ‘Screw that kid,’ I wasn’t trying to say, ‘Valley, up yours.’ No. My whole deal was, I was beat to death, I just want to get to the locker room, and whatever happens, happens.”
The day after the game, the Southland Conference announced that Dummer has been indefinitely suspended from umpiring games in the conference. Drummer said that decision was made without talking to him about the game.
Drummer said he has since umpired games elsewhere, and he has gotten support from the umpiring community.
“This has truly made me a stronger man and a better umpire,” Drummer said. “It might sound crazy, but I thank God that it happened to me. Because somebody else may not have been strong enough to overcome what happened.”