The St Paul Saints of the American Association indy league are at it again. The Saints have been known for goofy promotions for years, and on May 11th against the Gary SouthShore RailCats, they're going to crank things up to another level and play without umpires.
Balls and strikes will be called from behind the mound by a judge, complete with a robe and a gavel that he'll bang on home plate to start the game. As for calls on the basepaths, there will be 12 Little League players in box seats up the first and third base lines that will act as a jury. Majority will rule, and the judge will break any ties from his position on the field.
There's also going to be a judge located in the ballpark's main seating area to mediate disputes between any fans.
While this is something that will absolutely never (under any circumstances) take place in an actual major league game, it's going to be interesting to see how it works out. The jury scenarios could take some extra time, but managers arguing with umpires ends up taking up just as much time during a close play that they disagree with. There's also the very real possibility that the judge either gets in the way of a player attempting to make a play, or gets hit by a ball.
The scenario of an umpire calling strikes from being the mound actually took place for an inning during Spring Training, when home plate umpire Seth Buckminster got hurt and Tim McClelland was forced to engage in the unusual behind the mound practice since umpiring crews in Spring Training only consist of three umpires.