Bryce Harper was ejected in the first inning of the Nationals’ 6-2 victory over the Pirates Sunday afternoon after he drew the ire of umpiring crew chief John Hirschbeck with his reaction to a check-swing third strike. The incident left the Nationals without their best player and, owing to behavior from Hirschbeck that Manager Davey Johnson deemed overaggressive, raised the issue of contentious relations between umpires and players.
With two outs and none on, Harper tried to check his swing on a 2-2 curveball from Pirates starter Wandy Rodriguez. The Pirates appealed to Hirschbeck, the third base umpire, who rang up Harper. “He made the right call,” Johnson said.
Harper raised his hands in protest, with the bat over his head. Hirschbeck, in his 29th season as an MLB umpire, started yelling at Harper and walking toward him. Home plate umpire Bob Davidson chimed in from behind. Harper appeared to yell back at Hirschbeck and threw his bat on the ground. Hirscbeck pointed at Harper, who then threw his helmet. As Johnson sprinted out of the dugout, Hirschbeck ejected the 20-year-old slugger.
“I didn’t like that he put his hands up with the bat,” Hirschbeck said. “That’s kind of what I yelled at him. He continued and threw his bat. I kind of pointed like, ‘That’s equipment.’ And then, he still continued and slammed his helmet down. That’s when I ejected him.