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Thursday, April 02, 2020

Today in Baseball History: Umpire John McSherry dies after collapsing on the field

Opening Day in Cincinnati is special. Everything basically shuts down. A big parade is held and a party atmosphere pervades the city. The Reds have not gotten the honor of hosting the absolute first game of each year’s baseball schedule for some time, but the first Reds game each year — always at home, always a day game — is a special experience.

Opening Day 1996, however, was a tragic one, as home plate umpire John McSherry, working his 26th season as a major league umpire, collapsed and died during the first inning of the Reds game against the Montreal Expos.

McSherry was in good spirits before the game, jokingly telling Reds catcher, Eddie Taubensee, “Eddie, you can call the first two innings.”  A few moments later, however, there were some signs — recognized only in hindsight — that something was off. Expos coach Jim Tracy said that when he brought out his team’s lineup card, McSherry slurred some of his words. Reds starter Pete Schourek was surprised when his first pitch of the game — a fastball delivered to leadoff hitter Mark Grudzielanek that was right down the middle — was hesitantly called a ball, as if perhaps McSherry didn’t really see the pitch.

Things proceeded normally for a few moments. Grudzielanek flied out to right. Expos second baseman Mike Lansing struck out swinging. Then Rondell White came to bat. With the count 1-1, McSherry stepped away from the plate, raised his right hand, and waved it toward second base. Taubensee later recalled that McSherry said “hold on, timeout for a second.” Taubensee thought that maybe McSherry had pulled a muscle in his leg or hurt his back. He walked back toward the gate in the stands that led to tunnel leading to the umpire’s room. That’s when he collapsed.

 

QLE Posted: April 02, 2020 at 01:36 AM | 0 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, john mcsherry, opening day, umpires

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