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Bill Brennan

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William Thomas Brennan

  • Height 6' 2½", Weight 235 lb.

[edit] Biographical Information

Billbrennan cartoon.jpg

Bill Brennan was a National League umpire from 1909 to 1913, spent the next two seasons as Umpire-in-chief in the Federal League (1914 and 1915), then returned to the National League for a final season in 1921. Overall, he umpired over 1000 regular season games at the major league level in his career. He also worked the 1911 World Series.

Brennan got his start umpiring in the Northern League in 1900 and 1901, then moved to the Iowa State League from 1902 to 1904, the Western Association in 1905 and 1906, the Western League in 1907 and 1908, and the Wisconsin State League in 1909. After the Federal League folded, he had to get back to working the minor leagues, working American Association games in 1917, then the Southern Association from 1918 to 1920, after which he made it back to the senior circuit. He then returned to the Southern Association in 1923 and umpired in that loop until his death in 1933. In the meantime, he had settled in Knoxville, TN and coached the University of Tennessee Medical School's football team during the off-season.

Brennan is most remembered for an incident which occurred in a game between the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Phillies at the Baker Bowl on August 30, 1913. In the top of the 9th inning, with New York trailing 8-6, Giants manager John McGraw asked him to have spectators removed from the center field bleachers as they were, he claims, distracting his hitters. When Phillies acting manager Mickey Doolan refused to do so (the gesture would probably have caused a riot), he forfeited the game to the Giants, and bedlam ensued nonetheless. Brennan was attacked by irate fans when he tried to board a train out of Philadelphia later that day and had to receive armed police protection. The Phillies appealed to National League President Thomas Lynch, himself a former umpire, and he reversed the ruling, awarding the Phils an 8-6 win. It was now the Giants' turn to be appalled, and they appealed to the League's Board of Directors, who ruled that both Brennan and Lynch were wrong, and ordered the game to resume at the point where it was interrupted. That took place on October 2nd, and no further scoring occurred. The incident was the reason why Brennan decided to jump to the newly-formed Federal League the next year; Lynch's mandate as NL President also ended as a result.

Brennan is not to be confused with William Brennan, a pitcher from the 1980s.

[edit] Further Reading

  • Robert D. Warrington: "The Great Philadelphia Ballpark Riot", in Morris Levin, ed.: From Swampoodle to South Philly: Baseball in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley, The National Pastime, SABR, 2013, pp. 164-171.

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