Umpiring in the Good Old Days


Richard Hershberger

Richard Hershberger is a paralegal working in Maryland. When he isn't doing whatever it is that paralegals do, or taking his daughters to Girl Scouts, he is dedicated to the collection and analysis of useless and unremunerative information.

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35 Responses

  1. Avatar Notm says:

    The article says it is a coach. Even if it didnt say coach you can tell by the context. Im wondering what “macadam” is.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Notm says:

      It’s a type of stone road paving material.Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Notm says:

      Yeah, but… There was a complicated taxonomy of horse-drawn conveyances, with subtle social baggage carried by each type. You find this in old novels, where the author says what some character is driving, and the reader is expected to infer from this facts about said character. It can be quite opaque, to the point where a modern reader might not even realize he was supposed to glean something from this factoid, much less what.

      In the instant case, it is a bit unusual that the vehicle was specified so narrowly. I normally see the more generic term “omnibus” (or, if the writer is going for a breezy tone, a ” ‘bus”). The herdic was a new invention from just the previous year. So these people had a sweet ride, with the newest technology. Make of this what you will.Report

      • There was a complicated taxonomy of horse-drawn conveyances, with subtle social baggage carried by each type. You find this in old novels, where the author says what some character is driving, and the reader is expected to infer from this facts about said character.

        This reminds me of when I read American Psycho, and I didn’t get that the constant naming of brands/labels was supposed to tell you both about the narrator’s obsessions, as well as what he is inferring about the other characters from them. I just thought Ellis was a terrible writer who used brands/labels in place of characterization.

        It wasn’t until I saw the movie that I got the (hilarious) joke.Report

  2. Avatar Chris says:

    Plus ça change.Report

  3. Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

    Actually, in this case they do change. An incident like this is pretty much unthinkable today. The level of security doesn’t allow for it. This development occurred within my adult lifetime. Think of Morganna the Kissing Bandit. Such a thing would not be allowed today. I remember when it was normal for the crowd to run onto the field at the end of a big game. There are photos of fans perched on the outfield fence, ready to jump down with the last out. The players in the meantime would run for the clubhouse to beat the crowd. Again, simply not done anymore.Report

  4. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Does anyone else imagine Richard sitting in an old recliner, reading 100-year-old newspapers, and living with a veil of ignorance over his face that tells him the last century didn’t happen?

    “Ya know… I think this Yankees squad is much ado about nothing!”Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Kazzy says:

      The Yankees–that would be the Boston team, right?

      Sadly, however, no recliner. I sit at a computer reading PDF files. The flash drive is a great boon to research.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

        If it weren’t for your presence on the internet, I’d imagine you as someone who pays exorbitant sums to all around him to keep him convinced it is still the 1890s. Kind of like “The Village”. Like, some kid in a newsies cap shows up every morning with your old newspaper and gives you updates on the Titanic or whatever the hell else was happening back then.Report

      • Baltimore.

        Actually (you probably saw this) the Yankees have officially declared that their franchise begin in 1903, and the 1901-1902 team was somebody else entirely.Report

        • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Mike Schilling says:

          It might even be true. I don’t know. But in that era it is entirely possible that the Baltimore franchise shut down and went home, and the league then looked around for a replacement.

          I would look for two things to test the claim: the ownership and the reserved players. If Baltimore and New York had the same ownership, then clearly they were the same franchise. If the New York ownership paid money to the Baltimore ownership, then you have a prima facie case that they were the same franchise, with a sale and a move occurring roughly simultaneously. The reserve clause ties the players to the franchise, regardless of any moves or ownership changes, so if you see substantially the same players in 1902 Baltimore and 1903 New York, then this is a strong argument for their being the same franchise.

          This isn’t my era. I go in for mind-numbingly detailed knowledge of baseball up to about 1885. After that I am just some guy. Want to know my opinion of the Black Sox? I have none. I have never studied it enough to formulate an opinion. There are guys whose mind-numbingly detailed knowledge focuses on that. I would ask one of those guys. How big an asshole was Ty Cobb? I’ve read a few books, but they are the same ones you have read, if you care. Should the Union Association be considered a major league? That is in my wheelhouse. I could go on at length.

          So getting back to the Baltimore-New York question, I have no special insight. I just pulled up their rosters on There is only one regular starter on both rosters. This is consistent with their being separate franchises. But that’s all I’ve got. If pressed, I would refer the question to the SABR Dead Ball Era committee.Report

  5. Avatar Kolohe says:

    You ever read any of the Ron Luciano books? (I would be shocked if you have not). My favorite parts was when he tells the stories of the times in the minors where he and his crew are skedaddling out of ballparks to avoid hostile crowds.

    But as you say elsewhere in the thread, different times. (though some minor league managers like to play for sportscenter)Report

  6. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Macadam on the herdic is indeed most troublesome! Enough to induce a megram.Report

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