Holbrook in 2011
|Born: July 7, 1965|
|June 26, 1996|
|Career highlights and awards|
Sam Holbrook began his umpiring career in the Appalachian League in 1990, followed by stints in the Midwest, Carolina, Texas, Eastern and International Leagues before making his Major League debut in June, 1996. Holbrook worked the 1996 season in the American League, followed by three seasons in the National League. In 1999, he was one of 22 umpires whose resignations were accepted (in a failed union negotiating tactic), and was rehired in 2002, umpiring games in both Major Leagues since then. Holbrook has umpired in four Division Series (2005, 2007, 2010, 2013), four League Championship Series (2008, 2009, 2011, 2012), and two World Series (2010, 2016). He also officiated the 2004 MLB All-Star Game. Holbrook was named a crew chief in February 2017 by MLB. He is joined on his 2017 crew by Greg Gibson, Jim Wolf and D.J. Reyburn.
On August 29, 1998, in the first inning and first plate appearance of the day for first baseman Mark McGwire, rookie umpire Holbrook ejected both manager Tony La Russa and McGwire for arguing a called third strike. The game was halted for ten minutes and police were summoned as fans at Busch Stadium littered the field with trash and assorted knickknacks. Pitching coach Dave Duncan was also ejected after the Braves finished batting in the second inning. McGwire defended Holbrook, saying "I truly believe you guys shouldn't be having heat on the umpire. He has a job, I have a job, I crossed the line, I owe up to it. Period." La Russa did not agree, saying "I don't know if I'd have blamed (the fans). I'd have been hooting." Holbrook, in his first professional season as a full-time umpire, said "The farthest thing from my mind of what I wanted to do was eject Mark McGwire. I bent over backwards not to do so. I did everything I could to keep him in the game and he continued to argue. At some point I had to draw the line." Beer sales were cut off an inning early and security had to usher some fans out of the stadium. Fans again threw trash on the field at the end of the fifth inning after an awkward diving catch by Braves left fielder Ryan Klesko led to a double play. The next day during a pre-game ceremony to honor Cardinals Broadcaster Jack Buck, Buck said "Yesterday was one of the darkest days in Cardinals history." Buck also went on to say "When the men in blue take the field, I want you to welcome them with respect."
On July 7, 2012, in the first inning of a game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Houston Astros, while umpiring at first base, Holbrook ejected Brewers starter Zack Greinke. Holbrook ruled José Altuve beat Greinke to the bag on a close play, prompting Greinke to throw the ball into the ground in frustration. Greinke was then ejected just four pitches into his start and Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke was also thrown out by Holbrook shortly thereafter.
During the eighth inning of the 2012 National League Wild Card Playoff, Holbrook, acting as the umpire down the left field line, ruled that a popup in mid left field, 225 feet from home plate, hit by Atlanta Brave Andrelton Simmons was an out under the infield fly rule. The ball dropped between St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma and left fielder Matt Holliday just as Holbrook made his call. Without Holbrook's call, the Braves, down 6–3, would have had the bases loaded with one out. The Braves and the fans in attendance at Turner Field were upset over the call, and the game had to be delayed 19 minutes as fans threw garbage on the field in protest. Atlanta played the rest of the game under protest, which was denied by MLB Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Joe Torre. Several commentators, including TBS studio analysts Ron Darling and Joe Simpson argued that the location of the fly ball should have prohibited the umpire from citing an infield fly. MLB Network personality Harold Reynolds argued that the call was correct, employing instant replay to explain the call. Analysts supporting the call cited the Official Baseball Rules, which states, in part, that the fly ball's depth into the outfield is irrelevant in adjudicating this play.[a]
He was chosen as one of the umpires for the one-game Wild Card playoff between the Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals on October 5, 2012, advancing to the 2012 American League Championship Series with the rest of the Wild Card umpires nearly one week later.
Holbrook received a B.S. and an M.S. from Eastern Kentucky University, and resides in Kentucky with his two children, Adam and Amy. After his wife Susie died from cancer in February 2014, Holbrook spent the 2014 season on the bereavement list, returning to work Major League games in March 2015.
- "On the infield fly rule the umpire is to rule whether the ball could ordinarily have been handled by an infielder—not by some arbitrary limitation such as the grass, or the base lines. The umpire must, in a timeframe that protects the runners and allows them to advance at their own risk, rule also that a ball is an infield fly, even if handled by an outfielder, if, in the umpire's judgment, the ball could have been as easily handled by an infielder."
- "Sam Holbrook – 34". MLB.com. Major League Baseball. Retrieved August 29, 2011.
- "Sam Holbrook". Retrosheet.org. Retrosheet. Retrieved August 29, 2011.
- "Log Cabin Democrat Sports: McGwire tossed in first 8/29/98".
- "McGwire ejected; fans litter field".
- "Ejections 084, 085: Sam Holbrook (3, 4)".
- "Zack Greinke ejected four pitches into Brewers' loss at Houston".
- "Braves 'emptiness' after Wild Card loss; infield fly debated". Archived from the original on December 15, 2012.
- "Wild-card game stopped after call". ESPN.com.
- Short, D.J. (October 5, 2012). "Anger in Atlanta after controversial infield fly rule call". NBC Sports. Retrieved October 6, 2012.
- "Call of the Wild".
- "Atlanta Braves' Infield Fly Rule Controversy". Norcross Patch. Archived from the original on January 31, 2013.
- "Harold Reynolds Talks about the Infield Fly Rule". MLB Advanced Media.
- "STL-ATL Infield Fly (NL Wild Card): Why call was Correct". Close Call Sports. October 6, 2012.
- "Official Baseball Rules". Major League Baseball.
- "The Newark Star Ledger pg. 67 August 23, 2007".
- Felix Hernandez throws perfect game, overpowers Rays ESPN.com. Retrieved August 16, 2012
- Umpires for Wild Card Games, Division Series announced Darling, Kellogg Will Serve As Crew Chiefs for Wild Card Games; Davis, DeMuth, Gorman and West Assigned to Lead Division Series Crews. MLB.com. Retrieved October 5, 2012
- "Off Bereavement, Sam Holbrook Returns to the Field". Close Call Sports & Umpire Ejection Fantasy League. March 20, 2015.