‘Eggs for Umpire’

With the start of baseball season last week, this incident from July 1, 1904 can resonate with all the Orioles fans who have ever been frustrated by umpires’ calls.

“Aged eggs were the feature of yesterday’s ball game at Oriole Park,” began the Baltimore Sun article. “They were intended for an umpire who had been denounced by many for decisions, which they said were as bad as their eggs. But a new man arrived to get into the egg business.”

The Orioles were playing Newark Sailors, and the new umpire was a Mr. Gifford. “Before he went to the game he overheard a conversation at a sporting resort about umpires, the gist of which was that all that is required of an umpire is that he shall be capable and fair,” according to the Sun. “Mr. Gifford is a big fellow physically and has pluck. He decided to teach the Baltimore and Newark players a lesson, and he was a czar for sure.”

“He was off in calling balls and strikes and worse in close base decisions,” per the Sun. “There were only 436 spectators present, for which he may be thankful.”

Thankful because as Gifford continued to make bad calls and argue with players, the crowd got more and more worked up.

“The policemen saw the trouble brewing and filed out on the field and surrounded Gifford. Before they could get him in the dressing room a half dozen or more rotten eggs were thrown,” according to the Sun. Gifford was “well splattered,” as were a few of the dozen or so officers who escorted him off the field.

“While dressing Gifford was loud in his denunciation of the police because they had not arrested the egg throwers. The police did well, however, for had they left their man unguarded for a moment rotten egging would have been like ottar of roses in comparison with what he might have received,” according to the Sun article.

One question remained: “Where did the eggs come from? That was a question many asked, but, strange to say, persons who know all the intricacies of baseball were unable to tell anything about eggs.”

Source: Baltimore Sun, July 1, 1904

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