The 2002 MLB All-Star Game infamously ended in a tie when the American League and National League both ran out of pitchers.
That event had a good 15-year run as the strangest baseball tie in recent baseball history, but it has been usurped by a town ball game Wednesday night at Tink Larson Field in Waseca.
The non-league game between Waseca and St. Peter ended up as a 1-1 tie when the lone umpire working the game walked off the field in the 10th inning in apparent protest over the teams questioning his ball-strike calls.
That’s what we can glean, at least, from the account of the game from Tink Larson — the 75-year-old Waseca manager and ballpark namesake (pictured in a Star Tribune file photo).
Larson declined to say who the umpire was, noting that “umpires take enough stuff” and that this particular man is a “decent umpire and a really nice guy.”
Per Larson, who was reached by phone Thursday afternoon, the contest between Waseca and St. Peter was “a good game” and something of a pitcher’s duel. He said there was a fair amount of grousing from both teams over ball-strike calls, but nothing out of the ordinary.
“There were no confrontations, nobody had charged out of the dugout,” Larson said. “I heard their dugout chirp every once in a while, things like, ‘you’re kidding me’ and ‘call it both ways.’ Usual stuff. The umpire never warned the dugouts with anything.”
But in the 10th inning, Larson said, a St. Peter batter objected to a called strike.
“I don’t know if the hitter said something or not. He stood there for 2 seconds and then he walked away. All the sudden I saw the ump walk over to their dugout tossing balls out of his bag. He said, ‘You guys go umpire the game yourself,’ and he started walking away.”
The umpire then walked over to the Waseca dugout.
“Don’t even send me the check. I’m done,” Larson recalled the man saying. Umpires in that area typically make around $100 to work a town ball game if they are solo, as was the case Wednesday. “Everyone was bewildered. Maybe he wasn’t used to people chirping like that. All the sudden he just left.”
The teams stood around for a while before agreeing that the game — a playoff tuneup for both squads — would just have to end in a tie.
Larson said he followed up with the umpire assignment coordinator and learned that the umpire had indicated he was calling it quits for good.
Larson, who has been involved in town team baseball as a player or manager for close to 60 years, said he has never seen something like that in his life.
“Nope. But I’m only 75 years old,” Larson said with a laugh. “I’ve only coached like 5,000 games and played another couple thousand. That’s what they say about baseball. No matter how long you’ve been around, something new comes up. I’ve never seen this.”