Tag Archives: Umpire

How Baseball Fans “Watched” The 1911 World Series

Before Radio Or Television If You Didn’t Have A Ticket To The World Series – You Could Still Watch It On The Play-O-Graph

Advertisement for the “wonderful Automatic Play-O-Graph” – Philadelphia Inquirer Oct. 13, 1911

In August, 1911 with $10,000 capital, John W. Baker, Henry H. Abbott and Sumner Ford incorporated the Baseball Play-O-Graph Company in Stamford, Connecticut. The men devised a way of transmitting the actions of sporting events “live” through telephone and telegraph.

The depiction of baseball games through mechanical means had been accomplished previously, but not showing the track of the ball, which was what made the Play-O-Graph unique. The Play-O-Graph would show the action without the aid of electric lights.

Baseball fans congregate outside the New York Herald Building during the 1911 World Series

In October of 1911 the American League champion Philadelphia Athletics lead by manager Connie Mack would play John McGraw’s New York Giants for the World Championship.

Giants manager John McGraw (l) and catcher Chief Myers (r) at Polo Grounds before 1911 World Series.

Giants manager John McGraw (l) and catcher Chief Myers (r) at Polo Grounds before 1911 World Series.

There were a couple of oddities in the 1911 World Series. Each game alternated cities with games one, three and five being played in New York and games two, four and six played in Philadelphia. The other strange occurrence was that there was a one week delay between games three and four as a deluge of rain hit Philadelphia for six straight days.

After inspecting the field for playability causing the fifth straight postponement of game four, umpire Bill Klem joked, “There was a pool around second base big enough for a diving exhibition by (swimming champ) Annette Kellerman. I was unable to locate the home plate for the lack of a diving apparatus. The outer gardens would make excellent pasturage for a herd of hippopotami.”

Both teams were considered evenly matched and felt confident they could win the series. Since 1904 each team had won three pennants.

Line outside the Polo Grounds at 7:00 am to buy tickets for game 3 of the 1911 World Series. photo: Bain

When tickets for the opening game of the World Series went on sale on Friday, October 13 at the Giants home field, the Polo Grounds all the tickets were gone within two hours. After the sell-out, the regular ticket price of three dollars shot up to five, six, seven and eventually eight dollars from speculators (scalpers) who had scooped up as many tickets as possible.

With over 38,000 fans cramming the ballpark it would be difficult to see the game without a ticket.

That would be where the Play-O-Graph would come into use. Setting up their machines at four locations in the United States, fans could see the game as it transpired.

“When the pitcher pitches the ball and when the batter hits it and when he is thrown out, is all shown upon the Play-O-Graph. Every move of the game is made clear to the spectator who watches the ball as it moves from place to place upon the board,” the company proclaimed.

The company installed two boards in New York, one in Chicago, one in Detroit and one in Philadelphia. Continue reading

Yogi Berra Remembered In Photos

Yogi Berra Dies At 90 – A Remembrance In Rarely Seen Photos Of The Yankee Great

Yogi Berra during the 1960 World Series - photo Marvin E. Newman

Yogi Berra during the 1960 World Series – photo Marvin E. Newman

Lawrence Peter “Yog”i Berra died Tuesday, September 22, 2015 at the age of 90 in West Caldwell, New Jersey where he had been living in an assisted-living facility.

While countless obituaries will appear over the next few days recounting Berra’s storied baseball career, business acumen and quotable life, we thought it best not to dwell on Berra’s passing or try and tell all about his amazing life in just a few paragraphs. Yogi’s life story will be be well covered by his former teammates, friends, journalists and colleagues.

We will tell you that Yogi was not a great catcher when he first arrived in the majors. Yogi worked hard with former Yankee catcher Bill Dickey to make himself into a great defensive catcher. Also three American League MVP awards tell you that Yogi was extremely valuable to the Yankees. What those awards will not tell you was that Yogi was one of the best bad ball hitters ever – whether the ball was up by his eyes or literally in the dirt – Yogi could do massive damage on a pitch that most batters would not be able to do anything with.

We decided the best way to remember this Hall of Famer was with some old press photos that appeared long ago in magazines and newspapers and mostly have not been seen since.

Spec Shea Yogi Berra 1947 first start in World SeriesFrank “Spec” Shea and Yogi Berra before game 1 of the 1947 World Series at Yankee Stadium. 1947 marked the first of a record 10 world championships for Berra.

Berra Rizzuto 5 15 50 photo AcmeYogi Berra and Phil Rizzuto enjoy playing cards on a Yankees charter flight from New York to St. Louis, May 15, 1950 – photo Acme

clockwise - Yogi Berra (without cap), Mickey Mantle, Vic Raschi and Allie Reynolds celebrate 3-2 World Series game 6 victory over Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field - October 6, 1952

Clockwise – Yogi Berra (without cap), Mickey Mantle, Vic Raschi and Allie Reynolds celebrate 3-2 World Series game 6 victory over Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field – October 6, 1952. Berra homered in the seventh inning, Mantle homered in the eighth, Raschi got the victory and Reynolds the save.

Yogi Berra Batting sequence 1955 9 6September 6, 1955 – Yogi’s Off And Running – Yogi Berra the New York Yankees formidable catcher, shows the wrist action that provides the power that makes him one of the club’s long ball hitters. Berra currently hitting .273 has pounded out 23 homers and driven in 94 runs. He has hit 18 doubles and two triples. – AP wirephoto  Continue reading

Jackie Robinson Forced Out At Second By Ernie Banks 1955

May 11, 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers 11 Game Winning Streak Comes To An End

Jackie Robinson forced out at second base as Ernie Banks leaps over him May 11, 1955 photo: UPI

Jackie Robinson forced out at second base as Ernie Banks leaps over him May 11, 1955 photo: UPI

The New York Mets recent 10 game winning streak in 2015 may be a sign from the baseball gods that good things are in store for them. For inspiration the Mets can look back 60 years to the winning streak the Brooklyn Dodgers assembled on their way to their only World Series Championship.

The caption for this news photo says:

Chicago: Jackie Robinson, Brooklyn, forced at second in 7th inning of Dodgers – Cubs game here 5/11 as shortstop Ernie Banks throws to first for double play on grounder hit to second baseman Gene Baker by Carl Furillo. Umpire Art Gore calls the play. Cubs won 10-8 halting Dodgers’ winning streak at 11. photo United Press 5/11/55

What many fans may forget is that the Dodgers opened the season on April 13 and won their first ten games. By the time their 11 game winning streak was broken by the Cubs on May 11 they were 22-3 and held on to first place for the entire season. Continue reading

Thurman Munson And Billy Martin Argue A Call

Thurman Munson Is Out And Billy Martin Does Not Agree

Thurman Munson Billy Martin argue call July 21 1978

There was no instant replay back when this scene occurred on July 21, 1978 as Billy Martin pleads his case in vain to umpire Durwood Merrill. Believe it or not, they are arguing that Munson should have been called safe when he attempted to steal home.

The Yankees were playing the Minnesota Twins at Metropolitan Stadium, a place very familiar to Yankees manager Billy Martin and the theft of home. When Martin managed the Twins in 1969 he taught Rod Carew how to swipe home and Carew ended up with a record seven steals of home.

It was not a big deal that Munson was called out in this instance, as the Yankees won the game 4-0.

The Moment Lou Gehrig Stepped Down “For The Good Of The Team”

The Story Of The End Of Lou Gehrig’s Consecutive Game Streak – May 2, 1939

Yankee captain Lou Gehrig stuns Tigers manager Del Baker, home plate umpire Steve Basil and umpires Red Ornsby and Bill Summers as Gehrig informs them he has benched himself.

Yankee captain Lou Gehrig stuns Tigers manager Del Baker, home plate umpire Steve Basil and umpires Red Ornsby and Bill Summers as Gehrig informs them he has benched himself. (photo AP)

Almost everyone knows something about Lou Gehrig, the Iron Horse, and his consecutive game playing streak. But you’ve probably never seen the dreaded moment when Gehrig took himself out of the lineup ending his streak, except by seeing actor Gary Cooper do it in the famous 1942 movie The Pride of the Yankees.

This photograph above shows that actual moment that occurred 75 years ago today.

Since June 1, 1925 Lou Gehrig had appeared in 2,130 straight games over the past fourteen seasons with the Yankees. Gehrig played with sprains, concussions, back spasms, broken bones and illnesses that would have had a lesser man take at least a day off, go on the disabled list or convalesce in a hospital. But Gehrig didn’t just play. He played exceptionally, putting up outstanding numbers offensively and defensively while always conducting himself with grace and humility on and off the field.

So on Tuesday, May 2, 1939 at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, nothing seemed out of the ordinary when Yankee captain Lou Gehrig came to home plate to deliver the starting lineup card.

But earlier in the locker room in a private talk, Gehrig informed Yankees manager Joe McCarthy that he was removing himself from the lineup because he “wasn’t doing the team any good.” McCarthy asked him if he was serious and Gehrig replied that he was. McCarthy then told Gehrig it would be as he wished.

Gehrig approached the plate and handed the lineup card without his name on it to home plate umpire Steve Basil and Tigers manager Del Baker. On the photo, you can see the shock and disbelief on the faces of the men gathered around Gehrig whose expression is one of complete dismay.

The thunderbolt news raced through both teams, then around the stadium and finally throughout the baseball world through the newswires that Lou Gehrig had taken himself out of the lineup and was ending his famous streak.

When the announcement was made over the public address system to the 11,379 fans in attendance of Gehrig’s voluntary withdrawal, it was suggested that he get a “a big hand.”

The New York Times reported a deafening cheer resounded as Lou walked to the dugout, doffed his cap and disappeared in a corner of the bench.

Lou Gehrig consoles  Babe Dahlgren about replacing Gehrig in the Yankees line-up, May 2 1939

Lou Gehrig consoles Babe Dahlgren about replacing Gehrig in the Yankees line-up, May 2 1939

Ellsworth “Babe” Dahlgren who had waited since 1937 to start at first base for the Yankees, finally, but reluctantly got his chance. “I hated to break his streak,” said Dahlgren.

”I remember Lou taking the lineup card up to the plate that day. When he came back to the dugout he went over to the water fountain and took a drink. He started to cry. Lou stood there with a towel on his head, taking the longest drink I’ve ever seen anybody take.” Continue reading

Baseball In A Blizzard – The Detroit Tigers 1911 Snow Game

Snow Doesn’t Stop A Tiger Victory 

In the old days of baseball when there were fewer games and no playoff rounds, the baseball season started in mid-April. In part, the later start date was to try and prevent what happened to the Tigers on Saturday, April 15, 1911. The Tigers were playing their third game of the year at their home field, Bennett Park, against the Chicago White Sox on what started out as a cold and raw day.

One sportswriter said the game was played  in “conditions that were unprecedented.”

Patsy Dougherty triples for the White Sox.

Patsy Dougherty triples for the White Sox.

The snow started to fall in the top of the sixth.  The White Sox had an opportunity to break a scoreless tie when Patsy Dougherty led off the sixth inning with a solid triple. Continue reading

Collision At Home Plate

Billy Klaus Takes Down Yogi Berra, Ted Williams Picks Up 2,000th Hit – 1955

Yogi Berra Billy Klaus Red Sox Aug 11 1955 1  ©  Daily News Yogi Berra Billy Klaus Red Sox Aug 11 1955 2   ©  Daily News

Yogi Berra Billy Klaus Red Sox Aug 11 1955 3   ©  Daily News Yogi Berra Billy Klaus Red Sox Aug 11 1955 4   ©  Daily News

Yogi Berra Billy Klaus Red Sox Aug 11 1955 5   ©  Daily News Yogi Berra Billy Klaus Red Sox Aug 11 1955 6   ©  Daily News

In this series of photographs from August 11, 1955 at Yankee Stadium, Red Sox shortstop Billy Klaus smashes into Yankees catcher Yogi Berra.

The play unfolded in the fifth inning after Klaus singled and Ted Williams hit a ground-rule double advancing Klaus to third. Norm Zauchin then hit a fly ball to right and Hank Bauer made a great throw to Berra.  Klaus barreled into Berra knocking the ball loose.

What I like about the photograph besides the action, is that umpire Jim Honochick looks on rather passively not moving very far from where he calls balls and strikes, to make what should have been a very close call at the plate!

The Red Sox would lose this game 5-3. After the game with an ice bag pressed to his face Berra was sore and said, “I don’t know what he hit me with, but I hurt all over.”

One very important event happened in the game, Ted Williams became the 96th player in major league history to record 2,000 hits. He picked it up on a bloop single in the first inning that fell in left center between Phil Rizzuto, Mickey Mantle and Elston Howard. When Williams reached first he jokingly commented to Yankee first basemen Moose Skowron, “What a smash.”

With the hit, Williams became one of only four active players to be in the 2,000 hit club, the others being Stan Musial, Enos Slaughter and Mickey Vernon.

Babe Ruth, Dewayne Wise And Mistakes Umpires Make

Umpires Make Mistakes: See Baseball History 101

Photo Mike Stobe / Getty Images

Everyone is in an unnecessary uproar over the  Dewayne Wise phantom catch of a baseball that disappeared into the crowd at Yankee Stadium on June 26, 2012 during a 6-4 Yankee victory over the Cleveland Indians.

The umpire, Mike DiMuro is human. He made a mistake and admitted it after the game. That was the right thing to do.

Do you want the game to stop every time there is a controversial play? Aren’t the games slow enough?

Mistakes similar to this have been happening since baseball began and have been forgotten unless they affect the pennant race or a World Series game.

One forgotten incident that occurred on August 1, 1920 was whether Joe Jackson of the Chicago White Sox actually caught a baseball Babe Ruth hit into an overflow crowd at Comiskey Park.  The aftermath of that play is shown below.

Babe Ruth & Miller Huggins argue with umpire Tom Connolly, Bob Meusel (with bat) listens © blackbetsy.com

Going into the game against the White Sox, Ruth was on a tear, having hit 37 home runs already, shattering his own record of 29 home runs set the previous year. Continue reading

Marty Springstead Demonstrates How To Eject A Manager

Marty Springstead, Former American League Umpire, Dies At 74 (January 17, 2012)

Major league baseball umpires are beloved by their families and friends, but are generally not appreciated by the fans. When longtime umpire Marty Springstead died after suffering a heart attack on January 17th in Sarasota Florida, I felt sad that one of the more memorable baseball names that I heard throughout my childhood was gone. As a fan, I appreciated Marty Springstead’s umpiring skills  and not just because he would consistently eject Orioles manager and longtime Yankee nemesis Earl Weaver from ballgames during the 1970’s and 1980’s, but because he was from the old school of umpiring and was not flamboyant.

Springstead umpired in the American League from 1966-1985. He went on to become an executive and supervisor of umpires from 1986-2009. He worked in three All-Star Games and three World Series. He also got to be behind the plate for two no-hitters, but missed the chance for a third. He would have been calling balls and strikes on June 1, 1975 when Nolan Ryan pitched his fourth no-hitter, but he took off to be with his wife who was having a baby.  People who knew Springstead said Marty was funny and a great storyteller.

But managers who got under his skin would not see that side of him while he was on the field. Springstead was a very good umpire who took his job seriously and didn’t take flak from players, coaches or managers.  Twice during his career Springstead led the league in manager ejections.

I was among the 10,670 long suffering Yankee fans who attended the ballgame shown in the photo below.

At Yankee Stadium on Saturday, August 26, 1972, the Kansas City Royals had already scored two unearned runs in the third inning, and were leading two to one. There were two outs and Yankees pitcher Rob Gardner had a 1-2 count on Kansas City Royals slugger John Mayberry with two men on base. It looked like Gardner would get out of the inning. Continue reading

And Here’s The Batter’s Box…

Gil McDougald Needs to Be Reminded Where He Can Stand

Photo © Bill Nehez

New York Yankee third baseman Gil McDougald had one of the most unorthodox batting stances of all time.  He would face the pitcher with both feet pointing towards the mound in an open stance.

At Municipal Stadium on June 12, 1953 the Cleveland Indians were upset with where McDougald was standing, claiming his right foot was over the line of the batter’s box. Continue reading