Sunday, April 30, 2006
Cy Rigler Signals Strike
This is a story that doesn't quite ring true for me--it's a little too neat--but that's (obviously) not going to stop me from reporting it, because even if it is apocryphal, we'll just consider it a creation myth. The story has it that Rigler was umpiring home plate at a minor-league game in
Rigler thought about this and, according to legend, became the first umpire to raise his right arm on strikes. Thereafter his friends in the outfield bleachers could now see the call on a pitch without having to strain to hear the call. The technique soon spread throughout the country as umpires realized this was a far superior way to announce calls than bellowing "BALL!" or "STRIKE!" more than two-hundred times a game. By the time Rigler made it to the Majors as an Ump the practice was standard.
Rigler would go on to a distinguished MLB career; he umpired in ten World Series, the second-most all time and was just a few weeks removed from being promoted to NL Supervisor of Umpires when he died following complication from surgery for a brain tumor. His ultimate legacy however, remains an afternoon in