Bob Davidson (umpire)

61 – Bob Davidson

Davidson umpiring a game at Camden Yards in April 2007
Born (1952-08-03) August 3, 1952
Chicago, Illinois
MLB debut May 31, 1982
Umpiring crew
Crew members
Career highlights and awards

Robert "Balkin' Bob" Allan Davidson (born August 3, 1952) is a former umpire for Major League Baseball.

Major League Baseball career

Davidson was on the full-time umpiring staff for Major League Baseball (MLB) in the National League (NL) from 1982 to 1999. He resigned in 1999 as part of a labor negotiation strategy, then later returned to professional umpiring and rejoined the MLB staff several years later. He wore uniform number 31 during his career in the NL. Number 31 was worn by umpire Mike Reilly in the American League (AL), and it was assigned to Reilly when the AL and NL merged their umpiring staffs in 2000, so when Davidson later returned to MLB he was assigned 61 as his new number. For the 2011 season, he wore number 6, later changing back to 61.

Davidson officiated in the 1992 World Series, as well as the National League Championship Series in 1988, 1991 and 1996. He also worked in the National League Division Series in 1995, 1998 and 2009, and in the 1987, 1993, and 2014 All-Star Games. Nicknamed "Balkin' Bob" or "Balk-a-day-Bob" due to his frequent balk calls,[1] Davidson was voted by players and managers as one of the worst umpires in MLB, placing fourth-worst in a Sports Illustrated poll in 2011.[2]

During the baseball off-season and during his late 1990s hiatus from baseball, Davidson was a part-time talk show host for 850 KOA in Denver (the radio broadcast partner of the Colorado Rockies).[3] He also did a semi-regular stint about once a week being interviewed about umpiring as part of Rockies pre-game shows prior to his resignation (see below).

Resignation and return

Davidson resigned from the NL staff in 1999 as part of a failed mass resignation during labor negotiations. He was out of professional baseball until 2003, when he resumed umpiring in minor league baseball, including the A-level Midwest League. In December 2004, he and fellow resignees Tom Hallion and Ed Hickox were guaranteed three of the next five positions on the Major League umpire staff, with Davidson reportedly guaranteed the first vacancy. Davidson returned in 2007 to umpiring Major League Baseball games after the retirement of Joe Brinkman.[4]


On May 15, 2012 during a game in Philadelphia, Davidson and the Phillies' catcher bumped into each other during a play involving a strike 3 wild pitch. The Astros' runner was able to safely make it to first base on the play. Davidson yelled into the Philadelphia dugout "You think I wanted to block his ass?"[5] During the argument, Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel was ejected by Davidson. Three days later, Major League Baseball suspended Davidson from umpiring one game because of "repeated violations of the Office of the Commissioner's standards for situation handling". According to MLB, the suspension resulted from a "culmination of several incidents" as well as Davidson's conduct during the argument with Manuel. Manuel was also suspended for one game.[2]

2006 World Baseball Classic

In the top of the eighth inning of a second-round tie game against the United States, Team Japan's Tsuyoshi Nishioka was at third base when Akinori Iwamura hit a pop fly to left field off of Joe Nathan. This was easily fielded by American fielder Randy Winn. Nishioka started from third base on the sacrifice fly. Winn did not catch Nishioka at home, giving Japan a 4–3 lead. The American team executed an appeal play, arguing that Nishioka had not properly tagged up at third base. As third base umpire Neil Poulton had gone out to left field for the catch/no catch call, home plate umpire Davidson became responsible for making calls on the runner on third base. Second base umpire Brian Knight ruled that Nishioka was safe. American manager Buck Martinez argued that Nishioka had left third base too early and that the wrong umpire had made the call on the appeal play. Davidson met with the other umpires and then ruled Nishioka out. Video replay showed that Nishioka had properly tagged up at third base. Japan lost the game by one run on an Alex Rodriguez double in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Other notable calls

Personal life

Davidson is a graduate of Duluth East High School in Duluth, Minnesota, and he played baseball at the University of Minnesota-Duluth before pursuing a professional umpiring career. He spent eight years in the minors before being promoted to the majors. He is married to Denise and has two daughters, Amber and Andrea, and two grandchildren, Alana and Brock. He resides in Colorado. In 2010, Davidson was elected into the University of Minnesota-Duluth Athletic Hall of Fame.[11]


Davidson announced his retirement at the end of the 2016 MLB season.[12]

See also


  1. Hoynes, Paul (May 19, 2012). "Veteran umpire has a hair-trigger temper (but it's nothing personal): MLB Insider". Cleveland. Retrieved July 12, 2012.
  2. 1 2 Rosecrans, C. Trent, "MLB suspends umpire Bob Davidson and Phillies' Charlie Manuel",, Friday, May 18, 2012.
  3. Paige, Woody (July 16, 1999). "The Umpire must fall in baseball war". Denver Post.
  4. Roder, Rick (January 12, 2007). "Brinkman retires after 34 seasons". Retrieved 7 August 2012.
  5. Manuel's ejection
  6. Phil Rogers (September 21, 1998). "McGwire Belts a Likely Asterisk". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
  7. 1 2 Miklasz, Bernie. "Bernie: Ump Davidson a disgrace to the game". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
  8. Lancaster, Marc. "Umpire Bob Davidson's Blown Call Costs Marlins Victory". Retrieved 30 September 2012.
  9. Koster, Kyle (August 6, 2010). "Bob Davidson's call costs the Marlins -- but how bad was it really?". Sports Pros(e). Retrieved 30 September 2012.
  11. UMD Bulldogs - News Archived March 18, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. "MLB Umpire Bob Davidson Retires after 28 year career". Close Call Sports. October 2, 2016. Retrieved 2 October 2016.

External links

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