George Barr

From BR Bullpen


George McKinley Barr

  • Height 5' 8½", Weight 175 lb.

Biographical Information[edit]

George Barr began umpiring in the Western Association in 1924-1925. He moved to the Texas League from 1926 to 1931 and was a National League umpire from August 1931 to 1949. Later, Barr was President of the Sooner State League (1956-1957). In 1935, Barr founded the George Barr Umpire School in Hot Springs, AR, the first ever umpire school. Barr authored the book Baseball Umpiring in 1952. It was the first book to comprehensively address Umpiring.[1] Barr was a pioneer in using the inside chest protector.[2]

In 1933, Barr was Ernie Quigley's partner when Quigley sustained an electric shock while dressing after the game and was left unconscious; Quigley recovered without incident.[3] Barr Umpired in the 1937 and 1944 All-Star Games and the 1937, 1942, 1948 and 1949 World Series.[4] The 1937 All-Star Game was one in which pitcher Dizzy Dean sustained a toe injury that negatively affected the rest of his career.

The following year, on June 15, 1938, Barr worked as the First Base Umpire for an unprecedented event in baseball history, as the Cincinnati Reds' Johnny Vander Meer threw a second consecutive no-hitter at Ebbets Field. Vander Meer is the only pitcher in major league history to throw back-to-back no-hitters. It was also the first major league no-hitter pitched in a night game.[5] Barr worked Home Plate in Babe Ruth's last game in 1935.[6]

Barr was the home plate umpire on September 28, 1938, when the Chicago Cubs' Gabby Hartnett hit the famous "Homer in the Gloamin" at Wrigley Field.[7] With darkness descending, Barr had earlier ruled that the Cubs and Pirates would play one more inning, leading to Hartnett's game-winning home run with two on and two outs in the bottom on the 9th inning to win the game, 6-5, and put the Cubs in 1st place. Being mobbed by players and fans in circling the bases, Hartntett recalled Barr making sure he touched home plate.[8]

On May 27, 1942, Barr called a balk on Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Johnny Allen, who then rushed Barr, knocking him to his knees. Allen was suspended 30 days and fined for his physical confrontation of Barr.[9] [10] On September 11, 1946, Barr umpired a 19-inning scoreless tie between Brooklyn and Cincinnati that remains the longest scoreless game in history.[11]

On September 18, 1946, at the Polo Grounds Barr collapsed from a heart attack during a New York-Chicago game, but he recovered to resume umpiring again.[12]

On September 28, 1948, Barr was the Home Plate Umpire as Jackie Robinson stole home in a 9-8 Dodgers victory over the Boston Braves.[13] The next day, Barr famously ejected Braves player Connie Ryan in the second game of a doubleheader for appearing in the on-deck circle wearing a raincoat on a rainy day.[14] After umpiring in the 1948 World Series, Barr was briefly confined at home under a physician's care for an undisclosed illness.[15]

Barr was the second base umpire when an August 21, 1949 game, between the Phillies and Giants at Philadelphia, was declared a forfeit. Fans repeatedly threw fruit and bottles at the umpires after a controversial 9th-inning out call by Barr, leading to the forfeit ruling for safety. Bottles were soon banned from being sold at Shibe Park and soon the rest of baseball followed. [16]

Barr retired from MLB umpiring in January. 1950. Staying active in baseball, he later served as president of the Western Association and the Kansas–Oklahoma–Missouri League/sooner State League, two lower-level minor leagues that would both fold in that decade.[17]

He was active with Babe Ruth Baseball, serving as an international director for 14 years and helping to start the league in Europe.[18][19]

In 1962, Barr was appointed to run the Oklahoma American Legion junior baseball program.[20]

George Barr Umpire School[edit]

In 1935, Barr founded the first umpire training school. At first located in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Barr's Umpire School operated in conjunction with the Roy Doan Baseball School (1935–1938) and the Rogers Hornsby Baseball College (1939-1952), which drew hundreds of youth students. The Umpire School was held at Whittington Park, along with other venues in Hot Springs: Fogel Field and Majestic Park. Later, Barr would move the school would move to Florida, where he operated it until 1967. Future major league umpires Bill McKinley, Scotty Robb, Bob Engel, Ken Burkhart and Dick Stello were students at Barr's school.[21][22][23] [24][25] Barr prided himself on his school's tough standards. "We will tolerate no drinking, gambling or whistling at girls," Barr said in 1949.[26] He instituted a system of 10-cent fines, paid to the hotel's waitresses, for student mistakes or silly questions.[27] After his MLB retirement, Barr continued to operate the school well into the 1960s, after moving the school to Florida.[28]

Barr also took his instruction out of the United States, holding Umpiring clinics in Canada, Germany, Puerto Rico, Korea and Japan.[20]


Barr donated memorabilia from the Umpire School and his umpiring career. The items are on display at the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Included is a "rare display" of autographed baseballs.[29][30]

The George Barr Umpire School was featured in the March 10, 1947 issue of Life Magazine. Included was a photo of Barr in long underwear.[31][32][33][34]

The New York Historical Society Museum and Library said the following of Barr: "Few men have contributed as much conceptually to major league umpiring as George McKinley Barr, who umpired in the N.L. for 19 seasons (1931-1949). In 1935, Barr opened the first umpiring school in Hot Springs, Ark., then wrote the first textbook about umpiring, and later served as president of two minor leagues, where he emphasized umpire training. He operated his umpire school until 1967 while serving as president of the Western Association (1953-54) and the Sooner State League (1956-57). Called up in August 1931, Barr umpired four World Series and is the last umpire to get Series assignments in consecutive years (1948-1949). He worked the Subway Series of 1937 and the 1942 Fall Classic."[35]


Barr Authored the book Baseball Umpiring in 1952. It was the first book to comprehensively address Umpiring.[36]

Barr previously had written a section on Umpiring in The Sporting News 1951 soft cover book: How to Play Baseball. The Book had the following authors on topics: "Pitching by Larry Jansen; Catching by Ray Schalk; Batting by Rogers Hornsby; Base Running by Bernie DeViveiros; First Base by George Sisler; Second Base by Rogers Hornsby; Shortstop by Honus Wagner; Third Base by George Kell; Outfield by Joe DiMaggio; and How to Umpire by George Barr." [37]

Barr first addressed Umpiring in print when he wrote "You can't Kill the Umpire" for Baseball Digest, in the May 6, 1947 edition.[20]


Barr was inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in 1963.[20]

In 1969, George McKinley Barr was inducted into the Babe Ruth League Baseball Hall of Fame.[38]


In 1925, Barr married Mary Elizabeth de Vaughn. She died in 1958. In 1961 Barr married Ardis Nott. The couple had no children. Barr donated his baseball memorabilia to the Seminole Community College Library. The items have since been placed in the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.[39]


Barr died on July 26, 1974, in Sulphur, Oklahoma of heart disease, Barr had reportedly been in poor health for the previous two years.


  2. David L. Porter (2000),Biographical Dictionary of American Sports: Greenwood Press, p.73-74
  3. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette| location = | publisher = | date =May 26, 1933 | url =,2165367&dq=george+barr+umpire&hl=en | accessdate =July 3, 2012
  6. David L. Porter (2000),Biographical Dictionary of American Sports: Greenwood Press, p.73-74
  9. Jocko Conlan & Robert Creamer(1967), Jocko; University of Nebraska Press, p. 147
  11. The Leader-Post | publisher =| date =May 12, 1961 | url =,2962678&dq=george+barr+umpire&hl=en%7C accessdate =July 3, 2012
  12. Associated Press| date =September 18, 1946| url =,1687256&dq=george+barr+umpire&hl=en%7C accessdate =July 3, 2012
  15. The Portsmouth Times| publisher =| date =October 19, 1948 | url =,715100&dq=george+barr+umpire&hl=en | accessdate =July 3, 2012
  16. Robin Roberts & C. Paul Rogers (1996), The Whiz Kids and the 1950 Pennant; Temple University Press, p.186-187
  17.,902706&dq=george+barr+umpire&hl=en | accessdate =July 3, 2012
  18. David L. Porter (2000),Biographical Dictionary of American Sports: Greenwood Press, p.73-74
  19. Associated Press| date =July 27, 1974 | url =,4281962&dq=george+barr+umpire&hl=en | accessdate =July 3, 2012
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 David L. Porter (2000),Biographical Dictionary of American Sports: Greenwood Press, p.73-74
  22. John C. Skipper (2006); Wicked Curve: The Life and Troubled Times of Grover Cleveland Alexander; McFarland & Company Publishers
  26. =,1161792&dq=george+barr+umpire&hl=en | accessdate =July 3, 2012
  27. The Milwaukee Journal| publisher = | date =March 14, 1939 | url =,4069523&dq=george+barr+umpire&hl=en%7C accessdate =July 3, 2012
  28. Palm Beach Post | publisher =| date =February 10, 1963| url =,2011180&dq=george+barr+umpire&hl=en | accessdate =July 3, 2012
  31. John Bacchia (2011), "Augie: Stalag Luft VI to the Major Leagues" iUniverse, p.96
  39. David L. Porter (2000),Biographical Dictionary of American Sports: Greenwood Press, p.73-74

Related Sites[edit]