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October 25, 1911 revisited
2007-10-02 18:48
by Bob Timmermann

From the New York Times of October 26, 1911 (it's in the public domain now)!





Umpire Klem Declares That Doyle Failed To Touch the Plate When He Slid Home


Athletics Made No Protest in the Excitement, and so the Tally Was Counted


 The run credited to Capt. "Larry" Doyle in the tenth inning at yesterday's game at the Polo Grounds, which gave the Giants their second victory over the Philadelphia Athletics in the world's series, was not properly scored, according to a statement made after the game by Umpire William J. Klem of the National League, who was officiating behind the plate as Umpire in Chief.

Doyle did not touch the plate, according to Klem, and if the Athletics had made an appeal the umpire said he would have declared Doyle out and the inning would have ended in a tie score. As it was getting dark the game could not have gone much farther.

Umpire Klem's declaration that Doyle did not touch the plate was corroborated by Francis E. Richter of Philadelphia and J.G. Taylor Spink of St. Louis, official scorers appointed by the Baseball National Commission. Manager McGraw of the New Yorks admitted after the game, according to Mr. Klem, that Doyle missed the plate.

Despite the fact that the umpire in chief and the two official scorers declare that Doyle did not touch the plate to make the run legal, no protest can be lodged with the commission as to the result of the game, it is said, because the Philadelphia Club made no appeal on the play.


 Umpire Klem's statement was made to the Associated Press just after the game ended. There was question raised in the scorer's box whether the ball caught by Right Fielder Murphy off Merkle's bat in the tenth inning was caught on fair or foul ground. At the time Doyle was on third base and Snodgrass on first, with one man out.

Merkle drove the ball to deep right, close to the foul line, and good baseball would have led Murphy to catch the ball if it was on fair ground and take a chance at getting Doyle at the plate, but if it were foul to let it go, as the throw home was a long one.

The instant the ball was hit, Murphy sprinted to the foul line, caught it, and hurled it to Catcher Lapp, while Doyle sped for the plate. The throw was not a true one, and the New York Captain slid over the plate. There was a terrific roar from the victorious New York fans, and in the next instant the wildly excited rooters were on the field, and players of both teams were lost in the throng as they made their way to the dressing rooms across the grounds.

Klem said the ball was caught by Murphy in fair territory, that he made his decision that way, and that he was corroborated by Umpire Brennan, who was on the right field foul line and near Murphy. Klem then said that so far as the play at the plate was concerned the game was not over yet.

"Doyle never touched the plate," was his voluntary declaration, "but as the Athletic players made no appeal the game goes as a victory for New York.

"When Murphy caught the ball in right field," he went on, "I set myself to see the plate on Murphy's throw to it. Doyle came in like a streak and made a long wide slide as he came to the plate. He went across it with one leg back of it and the other over it about eight inches or a foot.

"He never got any nearer to it than that. I saw it plainly and waited. Usually I run to the dressing room when a game is over, but this time I stood at the plate for several seconds, waiting to see if the Athletic players would make an appeal.

"Lapp evidently did not see that Doyle had missed the plate, as he was busy taking Murphy's throw and probably took it for granted that Doyle had really touched the plate. None of the Athletics made the appeal, and as I was about to move away McGraw, in passing from the third base coacher's box to the players' bench, said to me:

"'Did you see it, Bill?'

"'I certainly did,' I said."

"'What would you have done about it if they had appealed' McGraw asked, and I replied that if the claim had been made that Doyle did not touch the plate I would have given my decision as I saw it, but you see what a mess I would have gotten myself into.

"'Well, I would have protected you,' McGraw replied as he walked away.

"I would have declared Doyle out if the appeal had been made."

Doyle vows that he did touch the plate as he slid home. Before leaving for Philadelphia last night he said he made certain of the victory by touching it, and declared Klem's judgment was in error.

In his reference to a "mess" Umpire Klem meant that if he had entertained the appeal the New York players and their partisans would have made a tremendous protest against the decision.

When Thomas J. Lynch, President of the National League, was told of the incident he said that so long as no appeal was made the game will stand as a victory for New York.

The Doyle incident brings to mind the famous Merkle-Evers affair on the Polo Grounds three years ago when the New York Nationals lost a game and a league championship by the failure of Merkle to touch second. Evers saw the lapse on Merkle's part and on appeal to the umpire, who also saw the play, the Chicago Club against which New York was playing, got the decision.

Postscript: This game was Game 5 and the Athletics still led 3-2 with the series returning to Philadelphia the next day. The Athletics won the World Series the next day with a 13-2 rout in Game 6. The series had started on October 14 and finished on October 26 because of numerous rainouts. The NL also ran its regular season until October 12 in 1911.

2007-10-02 19:58:25
1.   Daniel Zappala
Great story, Bob.
2007-10-03 00:48:06
2.   xaphor
Has this been changed or does it still stand that a team must appeal before an ump can overturn a call?
2007-10-03 07:09:36
3.   Bob Timmermann
Any time a player misses a base, he is only out on appeal. That has been a long standing rule at the pro level.

Missing bases, tagging up too early, and batting out of order are only called "on demand" as it were.

2007-10-03 09:19:02
4.   KG16
"Umpire in Chief", I think I'm going to have to use that next year.
2007-10-03 10:29:31
5.   Bob Timmermann
The phrase "umpire in chief" is still used in the rule book today. The home plate umpire is the "umpire in chief." It is not necessarily "the crew chief" which has slightly different responsibilities.

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