Thursday, March 6, 2008

Thomas Henry Connolly

Born 12/31/1870. Died on April 28, 1961.

Connolly officiated in the National League during 1898 thru and including 1900. This was followed by 31 years of service in the American League from 1901-1931. He established the high standards for which the circuit's arbiters became known and solidified the reputation for integrity of umpires in the major leagues.

Although he had begun his career by showing that he was willing to remove players from the field- he ejected 10 in his first season- he came to earn great respect from the players and once went 10 full seasons without needing to throw a player out of a game. He also showed an ability to stand firm against the toughest players in defense of the rules; On September 11, 1912, he called Ty Cobb out for stepping across home plate while batting, after Cobb had hit an RBI triple on the third pitch of what was to be an intentional walk. During the ensuing argument, Connolly was struck in the mouth by a bottle thrown by a Tiger fan.

That Connolly wasn't so prone to toss players tells me he had a sense of humor. He was able to make adjustments to the games at-hand and tried working with the players. Where a guy like Klemm was chosen to be the exemplary umpire by the powers that be, he really wasn't in the eyes of the players. They tried joshing around with him and all it got them was thrown out of the game. But with Tommy Connolly, they could kid around and it must have made it fun to play ball. So if the two umpires were teamed together, it may have been thought that Klemm was the glue that held the game together when in fact it was Connolly.

Hats off to Tommy Connolly. This brew's for you!

Kevin Marquez