- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
If you think Earl Weaver and Billy Martin—those Ph.D.s in the arts of kicking dust and shouting unprintable epithets—were rough on umpires, well, they were a couple of Peter Pans compared to Henry (Heinie) Zimmerman, who played every infield position for the Chicago Cubs from 1907 to 1916. Unfortunately for Zimmerman and his contemporaries, though, the umps had shorter fuses and quicker thumbs than they have today.
In one game, for example, N.Y. Giants first baseman Fred Merkle objected to umpire Frank New-house's decision on a close play. As Merkle prepared to throw a punch, Newhouse swung his mask so hard in self-defense that he drew blood—Merkle's. That happened not in the nerve-jangling heat of a game that might decide a pennant race, but in an exhibition the Giants played against an Interstate League team in Zanesville, Ohio.
During that same week in 1913, Zimmerman distressed his many fans when umps threw him out of three games in five days. His last ejection came on June 17 as he stood on third base. Bill Klem, who was later inducted into the Hall of Fame as an umpire, called a third strike on a Cub batter and took exception to Zimmerman's rather loud opinion that he could call balls and strikes more accurately 90 feet away.
On June 19, the sports section of the Chicago Tribune published the following letter:
"I'm Irish and I haven't much use for the Dutch, but there's one Dutchman I think a whole lot of, and that's Heinie Zimmerman. I think so much of him that I love to see him fight the other fellows. And ah, there's the rub. Darn him, he doesn't play regular. He gets canned too often for fighting the umpires. It ain't fair for those who pay their money to see Zim swat the pill and it also ain't fair to the rest of the bunch.
"Now to come down to brass tacks: Here's a $100 bill split in two. Go give one half to Heinie and if he stays in the game for two weeks—that is, if he doesn't get canned by an ump in that period of time, pass him the other half and a piece of sticking plaster to glue 'em together.
"Seriously, I want Zim to quit kicking. Two weeks of living in harmony with umps will do everybody a lot of good, Zim most of all.
"Please put a mask over my name, and sign:
"A Split Century"
The Tribune said the offer came from a fan who asked to remain anonymous.