Dean of Umpires

A Biography of Bill McGowan, 1896–1954


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SKU: 9780786421367 Categories: , ,

About the Book

Hall of Fame umpire Bill McGowan controlled the field of play as much with his personality as with the rulebook; his respected 30-year career, including 2,532 consecutive games, was among the longest in baseball history. McGowan was the home plate umpire in the first-ever American League pennant playoff game, Cleveland versus Boston in 1948. Famous for his sense of humor, great dramatics, and wild gestures, he was known to turn a strike into a ball if he thought a player deserved a break, or to eject half a team if they annoyed him. He promoted such players as Goose Goslin, Moe Berg, Stanley “Bucky” Harris, and Jimmy Dykes; wrote articles and newspaper columns; and founded a school for umpires in College Park, Maryland, which continues today as the Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School.
This richly illustrated biography gives an intimate view of this talented umpire, from his birth in 1896 and long marriage to his death from diabetes in 1954. With research including interviews with former players as well as family members, the work provides a wealth of anecdotes and insights into his profession. The textbook McGowan wrote for his students is included as an appendix.

About the Author(s)

Bob Luke is the author of six books about baseball and race in America. He lives in Garrett Park, Maryland.

Bibliographic Details

Bob Luke
Foreword by Jim Evans
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 223
Bibliographic Info: photos, chronology, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2005
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2136-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Foreword by Jim Evans      1
Preface      5
Bill McGowan Timeline      11
Introduction      13

1: Big Shot      21
2: When a Ball Was a Ball and a Strike Was a Strike      48
3: Not Born to Blush Unseen      58
4: Why Don’t You Umpire?      78
5: The School      87
6: No. 1      101
7: That’s a Sure-Fire Way to Lose Your Job      114

Epilogue      129
Appendix: The Textbook Used at McGowan’s Umpiring School      135
Chapter Notes      189
Bibliography      203
Index      207

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “A wealth of insights and anecdotes”—Sports Collectors Digest
  • “The volume rests on considerable research in primary materials…. Luke’s narrative weaves together anecdotes, vignettes, stories, recollections, humor, and observation into an interesting and enjoyable read, possessing the flavor of one of McGowan’s own after-dinner talks”—Journal of Sport History.