Monday, June 06, 2005
June 6th, 1917
John McGraw Ejected
Insofar as titles not telling the whole story, this one might rank just below "Joe DiMaggio gets hit" for the worst one I've ever had. John McGraw didn't get tossed out of games as often as Joe DiMaggio got hits, but it was probably a lot closer than you imagine. McGraw, I'm putting this as nicely as I can, was an asshole. He and his Baltimore Orioles of the 1890s were famous for baiting umpires, spiking opposing players and generally just playing dirty. By 1917, McGraw was in his forties and had cleaned up his act slightly but he was still feisty. Leaving the field after an ejection, McGraw took a swing at Bill Byron (known as "Lord Byron, the Singing Umpire" who once told a rookie arguing a call third strike: "you'll have to learn my friend before you get much older/you cannot get a hit with that bat upon your shoulder") and split Byron's lip.
The League Office looked down on this kind of thing, and NL President John Tenner responded by fining McGraw $500 and suspending him for sixteen days. McGraw was not pleased by this and responded for his part by launching into a tirade against Tenner and the umpires to the writer Sid Mercer. When Mercer published the comments McGraw denied he had ever made them. This prompted the BBWA to complain and force another meeting with Tenner, who fined McGraw an addition $1,000 (this ended up being an expensive day for ol' John) after ruling he had made the comments, despite his protestations.
The story's unfortunate postscript is that Sid Mercer and McGraw had previously been friends--probably part of the reason McGraw sounded off to him--but the incident so shook Mercer that he resigned from his beat job and never again spoke to McGraw.