Welcome to Better Know An Umpire, an effort to educate ourselves on the human elements who have ultimate decision-making power over some 2,500 Major League Baseball games a year.
Name: Jerry Meals
Uniform number: 41
Height/weight: 5-foot-8, 168 pounds
First year as MLB umpire: 1992
Total MLB games worked through 2011: 2,029 (home plate: 509)
Previous experience: Appalachian League, South Atlantic League, Carolina League, Southern League, Triple-A Alliance, International League
Career ejections: 37
No-hitters called: One
Over/under record (1999-2011): 181-211
Hated in: Minnesota, Pittsburgh
Notable alleged blown calls: Phillies-Cardinals, October 3, 2011 (Game 2, NLDS); Giants-Rockies, September 4, 2007; Rays-Angels, August 19, 2008
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Claim to fame: Blowing the final call of the Atlanta Braves' 19-inning, 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates last summer. Replays and photographic evidence clearly show that Julio Lugo was out at home, yet Meals called him safe. After the game, Meals admitted he blew the call. The next day, MLB formally acknowledged that Meals blew the call.
Scouting report from Major League Umpires' Performance, 2007-2010, by Andy Goldblatt:
Overall, Meals calls three percent fewer walks than an average umpire. ... His overall K/BB is 2.26, slightly on the pitchers' side, but that doesn't translate into fewer runs when he's behind the plate.
Scouting report from an Internet message board: Thread title: "Jerry Meals needs to die." First comment: "Just sayin."
Average K/9 (2010): 13.94
Average BB/9 (2010): 6.08
Sample PITCHf/x strike zone: July 26, 2011. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez and outfielder Nate McLouth were ejected in the ninth inning of their eventual 19-inning victory for arguing a called strike. (Called strikes against the Braves are shown as red triangles.)
True fact: Worked home plate at Wrigley Field on May 6, 1998, the day Cubs rookie Kerry Wood struck out 20 Houston Astros.
Strike 3 call:
To check out other installments of Better Know An Umpire, click here.