Family love doesn't impede work
Starter Wolf's outing met by brother umpiring hot corner
HOUSTON -- In the umpire's media guide, Jim Wolf lists his proudest professional moment as arriving on Sept. 2, 1999, when he umpired his first big league game between the Giants and Phillies in Philadelphia. He worked third base, while his younger brother, Randy, sat in the visiting dugout as a member of the Phillies pitching staff.
Over the years, the Wolf brothers have run into each other on the field somewhere between five and 10 times, in Randy's estimation. One of those times occurred this week, during the Astros' series with the Giants. Jim Wolf was part of the umpiring crew for the four-game series, while Randy, acquired from the Padres a few weeks ago, occupied the home dugout.
There are no specific rules that forbid umpires from working games that involve relatives, but the umpiring crew does take measures to make sure they avoid situations that might place umpires under any suspicion of bias, justified or not.
Therefore, on Wednesday, Randy's night to pitch, Jim worked third base instead of home plate. A humorous moment emerged during one of Randy's at-bats, when he lined a ball down the left-field line, just foul.
Jim Wolf made the correct call, as noted by his brother after the game.
"Everybody's giving me a hard time because that ball I hit down the line everyone thought might have been fair," Randy said. "But it was foul, it was foul. For Christmas, I'll probably just give him a big box of chalk."
A few of Wolf's teammates, however, feigned disbelief on such betrayal from one brother to the other.
"I can't believe he called that a foul ball," Geoff Blum said. "It's going to be a rough Thanksgiving this year at their house."
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.