How tall is too tall?

How tall is too tall?

Published Aug. 3, 2014 10:04 a.m. ET

Can an umpire be too tall?

Well, obviously. King Kong would make for a lousy umpire. Granted, there wouldn't be many of those annoying, time-wasting arguments by recalcitrant players and truculent managers. But ol' K.K. just wouldn't be able to get his nose down there into the hot baseball action.

I started wondering about this Friday night when I noticed Jordan Baker umpiring at first base. He towered over Blue Jays first-base coach Sal Butera, who was big enough to catch in the majors for nearly 10 years. Granted, Butera might have shrunk an inch or two over the years, but I looked up Baker and he's really big: 6'7", which makes him the tallest umpire in the majors. And quite possibly the tallest major-league umpire ever.

Saturday night, Baker was behind the plate for the Astros-Jays tilt. Jose Altuve is more than a foot shorter than Baker. That's one thing. Then, in the bottom of the eighth: Excitement! Jonathan Singleton's drive to deep center field escaped the gardener, and Singleton sprinted all the way around the bases. There was a perfect relay throw home, and Singleton was out!


Except Jordan didn't see the three inches of air between the catcher's glove and Singleton's leg. Upon review, Baker's call was reversed and Singleton had his inside-the-park homer. Did I mention it was exciting!

If Baker were just 6'2", would he have gotten low enough to make the correct call? What if he were 5'10"? And is it more difficult to call the low strike when you're that tall? One would hope that if an umpire can't call a good (i.e. accurate) strike zone, he wouldn't reach the majors. Regardless of his height. But it just now occurs to me that we have the technology to check these things.