July 24, 1851|
|Died: March 18, 1905
|Batted: Left||Threw: Right|
|June 1, 1871 for the New York Mutuals|
|Last MLB appearance|
|May 25, 1880 for the Troy Trojans|
|Career highlights and awards|
Richard Higham (July 24, 1851 – March 18, 1905) was an American professional baseball player born in Ipswich, Suffolk, England. However, he is best known as the only umpire to be banned from baseball.
Higham's family immigrated to the United States when he was two years old, and settled in Hoboken, New Jersey. During his career he was a very versatile player, fielding multiples positions, mainly as a right fielder and catcher with notable playing time as a second baseman as well. In 1871, he joined the New York Mutuals of the National Association during its inaugural season and played until the league was dissolved after the 1875 season, serving as player-manager in 1874. He then moved on to the newly formed National League, baseball's first recognized major league, where he hit in the first NL triple play against the Mutuals on May 13, 1876. In 1877, he served as captain of the Syracuse Stars in the inaugural year of the International League, which was part of the League Alliance, with whom the National League had a working relationship.
After his playing days were over, he served as an umpire for two years (though rumors abounded that he was fixing games as a player). However, in 1882, William G. Thompson, owner of the Detroit Wolverines (and also mayor of Detroit) got suspicious about some of the calls Higham made against his team. He hired a private detective, who turned up several letters between Higham and a well-known gambler. Higham outlined a simple code—if the gambler received a telegram from him saying "Buy all the lumber you can," the gambler was to bet on Detroit. No telegram meant that the gambler was to bet on his opponent.
As a result of this evidence, Higham was fired as an umpire and banned from baseball. To date, he is the only umpire to have been banished from the game.
- Seymore, Harold, Baseball: The Early Years, page 343.
- Higham, Harold V., and Larry Gerlach. Dick Higham, Star of Baseball's Early Years. The National Pastime. 21 (2001), 72-80.