11 Facts About John Gaffney


John Gaffney was baseball's first great umpire, and played a pioneering role in the use of multiple umpires in baseball games.

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John Gaffney began playing baseball as a third baseman, but his promising career was ended when he injured his arm throwing a snowball in 1880, reportedly just before being promoted to the National League.

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John Gaffney became a printer, and started umpiring college games involving nearby Ivy League teams in 1883.

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John Gaffney quickly gained wide respect as a top officiator, and as the league's best judge of balls and strikes.

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The team, mired in last place, finished the last third of the season without improving its position; but John Gaffney continued in the post for the entire 1887 campaign, with a slight improvement to 7th place.

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John Gaffney finished his managing career with 61 wins against 101 losses.

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The following year, John Gaffney was selected by the NL as one of the two umpires to work the 1887 series, along with Kick Kelly, who was regarded as the best umpire in the American Association from 1883 to 1886 before managing that league's Louisville team in 1887.

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John Gaffney made other innovations, including calling balls fair or foul depending on where they cleared the fence rather than where they landed, and creating a shirt in which extra baseballs could be stored.

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John Gaffney moved to the Players' League for its sole season in 1890 before returning to the NL in September 1891.

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The stress of 19th century umpiring, when players and fans demonstrated tremendous abusiveness and hostility toward the lone umpires, began to take its toll and John Gaffney was released by the NL after the 1893 season due to his increasing drinking.

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John Gaffney umpired college games near Worcester after 1900, and later moved to New York City, where he worked as a night watchman.

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