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Cy Pfirman

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Charles H. Pfirman
(Charlie)

[edit] Biographical Information

Cy Pfirman was a National League umpire for 15 years, from 1922 to 1936. He umpired over 2,200 major league games during his career. He was the home plate umpire for part of the 1934 All-Star Game at the Polo Grounds in New York, NY and worked three World Series, in 1928, 1933 and 1936. A no-nonsense character, he was not shy about tossing out anyone who challenged his authority, raking up 56 ejections during his career, including 13 in 1925 and 7 in 1934. He held a record for officiating in 1,710 consecutive games without missing a single day of work, from the beginning of his career until an injury sidelined him briefly on May 1, 1933.

On the last day of the 1936 season, he got into a famous scrap with New York Giants shortstop Dick Bartell, who was looking for a hit to finish the year with a .300 batting average. Bartell went crazy when Pfirman called a borderline pitch a strike; Bartell had apparently told him to "bear down" because he really needed a hit, something the veteran umpire did not appreciate. Bartell began to yell at Pfirman, and, frothing at the mouth, had to be restrained by teammate Jimmy Ripple and then manager Bill Terry and coach Frank Snyder or he would have swung at the umpire. Bartell was ejected, but had he been able to hit Pfirman, he likely would have had to sit out the World Series.

Pfirman never played baseball; his closest brush with the professional game came as a batboy in Terre Haute, IN as a youth. He is listed as manager for an independent team in Spokane, WA in 1908 before beginning in minor league umpiring career in 1909 in the Kitty League, at age 19. He then moved to the Illinois-Missouri League in 1910, the Central League in 1911 and 1912, the Southern Michigan League in 1913 and 1914, the Ohio State League in 1915 and the New York State League in 1915 and 1916. In 1917 and 1918, he was in the Texas League, then spent 1919 in the Southern Association before being hired by the senior circuit.

After working the 1936 World Series, he was hospitalized in New Orleans, LA for kidney trouble in late March of 1937 and died there a month and a half later. He had been living in Hammond, LA for the past few years. He was only 46, and his illness had prevented him from working spring training games that year.

[edit] Further Reading

  • Rob Neyer: "Dick Bartell & Cy Pfirman", in Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Legends: The Truth, the Lies, and Everything Else, Fireside Books, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, 2008, pp. 89-91.

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