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It also was in a hotel that McGowan had one of the most soul-shattering experiences of his career. It happened when he was a young and green umpire. He'd noticed how well dressed his fellow-arbiters were and asked for an explanation. After all, umpirical salaries were stringently modest in those days.
"It's easy," one of them said. "We lead lonely lives, apart from the ballplayers. But we're constantly coming in contact with traveling salesmen. So just butter up to a few of them, entertain them a bit and you'll be able to get shirts, suits, shoes and everything you need for wholesale prices. Sometimes they'll even give you samples for free."
McGowan cased the lobby and picked on a likely prospect. He struck up a conversation with him, learned that he was a salesman and buttered him up. The stranger couldn't pick up a tab. McGowan wined and dined him, carefully avoiding even a hint of the nefarious purpose behind his hospitality.
"It's been a wonderful evening, Bill," said the stranger as they parted.
"By the way," said Bill, "you never did mention what firm you're traveling for. Which one is it?"
"The Baldwin Locomotive Company," said the stranger.
McGowan's two suspensions deserve mention. The first was the outcome of an incident at home plate in a game between the Senators and Indians in Washington. Joe Paparella ruled that Eddie Stewart was out at home with the winning run and the Washington players came storming out of the dugout in violent protest.
NEW MAN ON JOB
Technically speaking, the call was none of McGowan's business. But Paparella was a new man on the job and Bill rushed to his rescue. But in taking the heat off his fellow worker, he set himself ablaze. Words were spoken that should never have been spoken. So McGowan was suspended to cool off. But that was why he got even more than the normal satisfaction out of being named umpire-in-chief a few months later in the play-off game. It was a vindication of sorts.
The other suspension resulted primarily from a run-in with players and then erupted in the wrong direction, toward the press box. It was a Tiger-Brown game in St. Louis and McGowan thought the Tigers were unnecessarily rough in their riding of Satchel Paige. He furiously ordered them to stop and cleared off part of the Detroit bench. The baseball writers asked for details of the still-seething McGowan.