As in life, if what goes around comes around in baseball, Howie Karpin has come full circle.
During a June 30, 2004 Red Sox-Yankees game at Yankee Stadium, when Tony Clark’s sharp ground ball tore through the webbing of Red Sox first baseman David Ortiz’s glove, Karpin charged an error on the play.
Yankees manager Joe Torre blamed Big Papi’s “equipment malfunction” and urged Karpin, Major League Baseball’s primary official scorer for Mets and Yanks home games, to reconsider. So Karpin, a Bronx native, recalled a memorable episode of TV’s “The Munsters.” During a tryout with the Dodgers, Herman ripped a grounder, his super strength burning a hole in the third baseman’s glove.
“Herman Munster didn’t hit that ball,” Karpin told Torre, who laughed. Debate over.
Karpin scored the 1,000th regular-season game, the Mets’ 4-0 loss to the Pirates on June 14, of his 18-year career. Karpin also has scored 23 Mets and Yankees playoff games and six World Series games, including last year.
“Being part of a major league game” is Karpin’s favorite part. “Because that’s always been a dream of mine.”
Indeed, Karpin was a pitcher, first baseman and outfielder for Division III Lehman College in the Bronx. He was scouted by the Twins’ Herb Stein, who signed Hall of Famer Rod Carew and Cy Young winner Frank Viola.
“I had a little ability,” Karpin said.
After years covering the Mets and Yanks on local radio, Karpin was ushered into scoring by his mentor, legendary official scorer Bill Shannon.
And what stories Karpin has, such as charging an error on even-tempered Derek Jeter. Karpin recalled the future Hall of Famer became “miffed” in urging a reversal. Twice. No dice.
“Standing by your convictions” is key, Karpin said. His error ruling cost Brent Mayne a hit, so the ex-Royals catcher angrily confronted him.
“The vulgarities were flying,” Karpin said.
Players can appeal scoring rulings. Torre, now an MLB executive, has final say.
What goes around, comes around.