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Pirates News

Hero umpire receiving outpouring of gratitude

June 29, 2017

PITTSBURGH -- Sitting in the Pirates' dugout on Thursday afternoon at PNC Park between interviews with MLB Network and the TODAY Show, umpire John Tumpane took a brief moment to reflect on the past 24 hours.A day before, Tumpane was walking back from lunch when he saw a woman prepared

PITTSBURGH -- Sitting in the Pirates' dugout on Thursday afternoon at PNC Park between interviews with MLB Network and the TODAY Show, umpire John Tumpane took a brief moment to reflect on the past 24 hours.
A day before, Tumpane was walking back from lunch when he saw a woman prepared to leap from the Roberto Clemente Bridge. Tumpane stopped her and, with the help of police and a few passersby who coincidentally wound up at PNC Park that night (including a Rays employee), safely secured the woman to save her life.
"I have a strong faith background. I want to think I was in the right place at the right time and there's a reason why I was there," Tumpane said. "Thankful that I was, and thankful I was able to talk about this ending and not another ending."

Thursday brought a whirlwind of interviews for Tumpane, who recounted the story for local and national radio and television. He said he received an outpouring of encouragement and gratitude from inside and outside the baseball industry.
Just before the Pirates and Rays took the field on Thursday night, there was a moment to recognize Tumpane's deeds. He received a round of applause when he was introduced alongside the rest of the umpiring crew, then public address announcer Tim DeBacco invited fans to thank Tumpane for his bravery.
The crowd responded with a lengthy ovation. Tumpane tipped his cap to the fans and nodded. It's typically not a good sign when an umpire remains part of the news cycle or becomes a household name in a city, but this, of course, was different.
"That support has been huge. But I also hope the woman that I helped yesterday is feeling some of that support today," Tumpane said. "I know she's going to need it. I helped her with this yesterday, but she's going to need some assistance along the way. I hope that all works out."

Tumpane attempted to reach out to the woman, who was taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, but he wasn't able to speak to her for reasons of confidentiality and regulations relating to the HIPAA law.
But Tumpane reiterated what he told the woman Wednesday: He will not forget her.
"I hope to cross paths with her," Tumpane said. "When you're that close to somebody in that life situation, it's somebody you would like to see again. I hope she's having a better day today than yesterday."
The Pirates and Rays were largely unaware of Tumpane's pregame actions during Wednesday night's game at PNC Park. Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle found out after the game and saw Tumpane at the ballpark on Thursday afternoon.
"I told him I couldn't be more proud of him," Hurdle said. "The man didn't think about things, didn't analyze things, didn't figure out how he was feeling first. He just got engaged. He did something to help make a difference in the life of another human being.
"I think it's just an awesome thing that he was able to do. It speaks volumes about the man. It's a guy you can count on."

Tumpane has become one of Rays third-base coach Charlie Montoyo's favorite umpires over the years. They typically chat early in games as Montoyo jogs onto the field, often about Montoyo's habit of running during road series. When Montoyo stopped behind the plate early in Wednesday's game, Tumpane told him the story.
"I explained what happened on the bridge, and I said, 'I could have used you out on the bridge today. Where were you at running?'" Tumpane said.
As it turns out, Montoyo was running during the incident -- but he was along the river, not on the bridge. When Montoyo returned to the Rays' dugout, he relayed the story to first-base coach Rocco Baldelli, who caught Tumpane's attention and signaled with a thumbs up.
"I went running outside and saw what was going on over there, and then he told me that was him," Montoyo said on Thursday. "I saw the boats in the water, waiting if she fell, and the police. I looked at it and kept running, then he told me that.
"I'm proud of him. That's really cool."

More unexpected were the two visitors Tumpane received on Wednesday night: one between innings, another after the game ended.
Between the fifth and sixth innings, a man named Chris walked up to the net behind home plate and shouted Tumpane's name. He pointed at himself and shouted, "Remember me?" Tumpane did. It was the first man who assisted Tumpane on the bridge, grabbing the woman's arm as she struggled.
After thanking the man for his help, Tumpane handed him a game ball.
Between the end of the game and a press conference to discuss what happened, Tumpane was reintroduced to Michael Weinman, the Rays' manager of multimedia production. Weinman happened upon the scene on Wednesday afternoon while walking to the ballpark, dropped his bag and rushed to grab the woman's legs to keep her from pushing herself off the bridge.

Tumpane had no idea Weinman worked for the Rays, and Weinman was unaware Tumpane would be behind the plate at PNC Park later that night.
"Whoever thought three people on that bridge at 3 o'clock would have been at this ballpark at 10 o'clock? It was crazy," Tumpane said. "A feel-good story of people coming together to do a good thing."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.