Document of the Month: Spring 1999
This issue features a March 3, 1908 letter from NL president Harry Pulliam to all club presidents, protesting the deplorable conditions faced by umpires.
"You will remember that at the Annual Meeting of the National League held in December, I requested that a resolution be passed making it mandatory for all clubs to provide adequate dressing-room facilities for the umpires just as they are required to do for the visiting players. The resolution in question was kicked to death. However, it was understood that the various league clubs would voluntarily provide dressing room facilities requested by me. This letter is simply a reminder.
"While I realize that the ball players and most of the fans and club owners look upon the umpire as a necessary evil, still I wish to call your attention to the fact, as his employer, that he is simply a human being. Last year, through inadequate dressing room facilities, and I mean by that heating and hot and cold water, O'Day, Emslie, Carpenter, Johnstone and Klem all suffered from severe colds and I thought at one time that the colds would develop into pneumonia. Some of these men could not work and when they did work their voices were so hoarse that their services were unsatisfactory to the public. The only man exempt from common ills was Mr. Rigler who, being an iron man defies the ordinary conventionalities of life.
"At Mr. O'Day's urjent [sic] request, I visited one of the dressing rooms for the use of our umpires and I found, as he had told me, that his underwear and clothes were wet as rags from the dampness of the room after one night's exposure. I know very well that the umpires do not have to use the dressing rooms set apart for them, because it is only out of courtesy on your part that they have them and if they do not like it they can 'lump' it, and instead of dressing at the grounds they can leave the grounds wringing wet with perspiration and ride on open street cars to their hotels.
"As a business proposition, however, I think you should provide proper dressing room facilities for the umpires because, if they are incapacitated from duty it is necessary for me to supply a substitute at the expense of the National League."
Compiled by Doug Pappas. All rights reserved.
Originally published in the Spring 1999 issue of Outside the Lines, the SABR Business of Baseball Committee newsletter.