Not long ago I visited Cuba to see some baseball games in Havana, which I documented in My Cuban Baseball Experience. During my time there, I witnessed a game that was officiated by the most enthusiastic home plate umpired I had ever seen. I wrote:
Another thing I noticed early on was the flair that the homeplate umpire was exhibiting. His calls were flamboyant and spirited. The highlight of his performance was the calls he would make when a batter would strike out looking. He would drop his arms to his sides, walk about 5-6 steps to his right and then punch out the hitter emphatically. Early and I thought he was about to walk into the stands and punch us in the face. We loved it. If only MLB umpires displayed the artistic panache this Cuban umpire did then the game would be so much more entertaining.
I also posted a short clip of him, although it did not do him justice:
Thankfully, my friends over at Cuban Ballplayers read my post and looked into this umpire a little bit further. It turns out the umpire I referenced is a veteran named Omar Lucero, a charismatic Cuban who is very entertaining for the fans. The best part is that they were able to find video of him performing his craft. I now present to you, the stylistic calling of strike 3 by Mr. Omar Lucero:
In the above video Lucero punches out Yorelvis Charles of Ciego de Avila.
(He doesn’t ring him up until 1:29)
This is the best one. Lucero lights it up at 0:35 and there is a slow motion replay. Brilliant!
Although it is highly unlikely that Lucero would ever defect, the World Baseball Classic would do well to include him in an umpiring crew. Could you imagine him ringing up Derek Jeter in this fashion? How would the MLB players react?
I’d love to find out.