Vic Delmore

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Victor "Deacon" Delmore (October 21, 1917 in Dunmore, Pennsylvania – June 10, 1960 in Scranton, Pennsylvania) was an umpire who worked in the National League from 1956 to 1959. His professional umpiring career began in 1948 in the KITTY League. He worked in the Southern Association from 1949 to 1955. From 1935 to 1942, he pitched in the minor leagues, most notably with the Hopkinsville Hoppers in 1937.[1]

Delmore was involved in one of the most bizarre plays in baseball history which happened during a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on June 30, 1959. Stan Musial was at the plate, with a count of 3-1. Bob Anderson's next pitch was errant, evading catcher Sammy Taylor and rolling all the way to the backstop. Delmore called ball four, however Anderson and Taylor contended that Musial foul tipped the ball. Because the ball was still in play, and because Delmore was embroiled in an argument with the catcher and pitcher, Musial took it upon himself to try for second base. Seeing that Musial was trying for second, Alvin Dark ran to the backstop to retrieve the ball. The ball wound up in the hands of field announcer Pat Pieper, but Dark ended up getting it back anyway. Absentmindedly, however, Delmore pulled out a new ball and gave it to Taylor. Anderson finally noticed that Musial was trying for second, took the new ball, and threw it to second baseman Tony Taylor. Anderson's throw flew over Tony Taylor's head into the outfield. Dark, at the same time that Anderson threw the new ball, threw the original ball to shortstop Ernie Banks. Musial, though, did not see Dark's throw and only noticed Anderson's ball fly over the second baseman's head, so he tried to go to third base. On his way there, he was tagged by Banks, and after a delay he was ruled out.[2] The Cardinals filed a protest which became moot when they won the game 4–1, and thus the play stood. This was the first known occurrence in Major League Baseball history in which two balls were in play simultaneously.[3] The only subsequent time this happened was 55 years later on August 5, 2014 when David Murphy of the Cleveland Indians was confused by a ball accidentally thrown from the Cincinnati Reds' bullpen and tagged out before sliding back to third base in the seventh inning of a 9–2 Indians loss at Progressive Field.[4]

Alvin Dark, involved in the infamous play, recalled years later that "It was a mess, and I really felt sorry for Vic Delmore....I don't remember everything about it but I do remember everyone laughed at Vic Delmore. That play ruined him, and he was a great fellow and a good umpire."[5]

Delmore's contract was not renewed for the 1960 season, despite a "deluge" of telegrams from fans who considered his termination unjust.[6][7] Less than a year after the incident, Delmore died at age 42.[8] He was buried in Mount Carmel Cemetery in his hometown, Dunmore.[9] He was survived by his mother Catherine, and by his wife of six months, Sonja Bochmann, a former secretary who had worked at the National League offices.[10][11]


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