Umpires will be allowed to check video on home run calls starting Thursday after Major League Baseball, guardian of America's most traditional sport, reversed its decades-long opposition to instant replay.
"Like everything else in life, there are times that you have to make an adjustment," baseball commissioner Bud Selig said following Tuesday's announcement. "My opposition to unlimited instant replay is still very much in play. I really think that the game has prospered for well over a century now doing things the way we did it."
Selig, 74, who described himself as "old fashioned" and an admirer of baseball's "human element," softened his opposition after a rash of blown calls this season.
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For now, video will be used only on so-called "boundary calls," such as determining whether fly balls went over the fence, whether potential home runs were fair or foul and whether there was fan interference on potential home runs.
"Any time you try to change something in baseball, it's both emotional and difficult," Selig said. "There's been some concern that, well, if you start here, look what it's going to lead to. Not as long as I'm the commissioner."
Replay will go into use with three series scheduled to open Thursday: Philadelphia Phillies at Chicago Cubs, Minnesota Twins at Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Angels.
For other games, replays will be available to umpires starting Friday.
Cubs manager Lou Piniella wondered whether a team could challenge a call.
"I'd love to be able to throw a red hankie or a green hankie. Imagine being able to throw something on the field and not be ejected," he said. "I shouldn't say it's not going to work, but this could turn into a little bit of a fiasco initially."
The NFL first used replay to aid officials in 1986, the NHL in 1991 and the NBA in 2002. Even at the stuffy old Wimbledon tennis tournament, technology has been used on line calls since 2006. Replay equipment was in place at this year's Little League World Series.