It’s one call from major-league umpire John Tumpane than no one will ever second-guess. Tumpane spotted a woman climbing onto the side of the Roberto Clemente Bridge in Pittsburgh and knew something wasn’t right. He ended up saving her life along with other passers-by, including visiting Tampa Bay Rays employee Mike Weinman:
“It was just pure instinct,” Tumpane told reporters. “You hear kind of stories of this all the time, different scenarios, people aiding and situation where I was lucky enough to be there to help and try to think of everything I could do, hanging onto her. At times, she wanted to go the other way. I was like, ‘Not on my watch, please.’ We were just hanging on.” …
Tumpane, Weinman and the third volunteer clung to the unidentified woman until emergency responders arrived. A police boat raced up the river to the iconic yellow bridge named for the Pirates Hall of Famer who died on Dec. 31, 1972, when a plane making humanitarian deliveries to earthquake victims in Nicaragua crashed. Now, 45 years later, a crowd thrust together by fate brought a complete stranger back from the brink. Together.
It’s a moment that Tumpane will never forget, as he told the woman once police arrived to complete the rescue:
“Once they were able to secure her, we were able to talk her back to help us out and we got her back on this side,” Tumpane said. “After that I went up to her, she said, ‘You’ll just forget me after this’ and I said, ‘No, I’ll never forget you.’ This was an unbelievable day and I’m glad to say she can have another day with us and I’m glad I was in the right place at the right time.”
It’s a moment that we should not forget, either. Tumpane works in a high-pressure, usually controversial job under a constant media glare that often overlooks the humanity of those involved, not unlike other fishbowl environments. It should remind us that we have more in common than what separates us … at least until the next time Tumpane blows a strike call. Kidding, kidding…
This will be the MLB save of the year, even if it doesn’t make it into the stats. Kudos to John Tumpane, and for the local media who covered it, and let’s pray for the woman to return to health and embrace life.