One of the most 2020 images in the entire sports landscape is “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” played in empty ballparks. Over the last two weeks, the juxtaposition of the seventh inning stretch with no one around to sing along has reminded all fans what year it is.
To counteract this and put some good back in the world, Brooklyn College music grad student Harrison Sheckler recently released a “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” virtual choir video. There are many familiar baseball faces in the video, from Reds outfielder Aristides Aquino to Ryan Dempster’s ubiquitous Harry Caray impression.
There was also an umpire. And when the song reached its “one, two, three strikes you’re out” climax, I thought, “That punchout looks … familiar.” Sure enough, it was former MLB umpire Dale Scott.
Scott, who came out publicly during the 2014 offseason, told Outsports he became involved in the project after Sheckler contacted him directly. “It sounded like a fun thing to do and let’s be honest, the last several months have had a void of fun things to do,” he said. “That’s something that even a home plate umpire and Lou Piniella could agree on.”
When asked if he’d ever been in a choir before, Scott didn’t hesitate to admit:
“Never, and for good reason. I’m a horrible singer! I used to work in radio and have joked for years that I sound great introducing a song but for the love of God, don’t let me sing it! Harrison assured me that you wouldn’t hear my actual audio, they just needed me to sing along in time with the music for the video to sync up.”
So baseball fans hoping for that long-awaited Dale Scott/Country Joe West duet shouldn’t hold their breath.
After retiring following the 2017 season, Scott doesn’t have to worry about putting himself at risk for his job. As to whether he’d feel comfortable umpiring in the midst of a pandemic if he was still active, Scott wasn’t sure:
“Part of me thinks I would have gone ahead and worked but then again, I didn’t have to seriously think about it in real time. Knowing now what we didn’t know the weeks before things got ramped up, I probably wouldn’t have gone back to work.”
Despite all of that, Scott still gets to end the virtual choir with the words all fans love to hear: “Play ball!”