Tom Connolly was one of the first umpires inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Tom Connolly was born in Manchester, England on December 31, 1870. Tom was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY in 1953. He and Bill Klem were inducted on the same day by vote of the Veterans Committee. Tom was and English-American and umpired in the Major League for 31 years. (1898 – 1931). Tom started his career in the National League for two years then switched to the American League from 1901 until he retired in 1931. As an American League umpire and supervisor for 50 years he established high standards for the craft of umpiring.
As a young boy in England Tom enjoyed playing Cricket. The Connolly’s moved to the United States in 1885. As a kid he saw his first baseball in Natick, Massachusetts. He was intrigued with the game and started studying the rule book and learning as much as he could about baseball. After a few years Tom began umpiring in local leagues. He met major league umpire Tim Hurst, Hurst found Tom a job umpiring in The New England League, there he umpired for three years.
1898 was the year for Tom Connolly the National League promoted him as a full time umpire. He had disputes with the NL president. The league president did not back umpires up on controversial decisions on the field. Resigning in 1900 in the middle of the season. He then signed with the American League under league president Ban Johnson a know advocate for AL umpires. Johnson wanted to create a better image in the AL and gave umpires a huge measure of support to challenge the National League. The AL president let it be know that the judgment of the umpire on the field was final and that attacks by players, managers, etc. would not be tolerated. Tom Connolly umpired the first American League game ever played solo April 24, 1901.
BAN JOHNSON AMERICAN LEAGUE PRESIDENT
At the beginning of his career as an umpire Tom had the reputation of ejecting players. He ejected 10 players his first season. He became very well respected by managers, and players alike. He also went 10 full years without ejected a player. On September 11, 1912 he called Ty Cobb out for stepping on the plate while hitting. He stood firm against a tough guy like Cobb. He umpired with great zeal for the rules and was no respecter of any person. The argument with Cobb ended with a spectator throwing a bottle at him and hitting him in the mouth. As his reputation grew Tom was given prominent assignments for games. Including the first AL game ever played at Comisky Park, and Shibe Park and the first World Series in 1903.
TY COBB DETROIT TIGERS
In 1931 the new AL president Will Harridge had concern about the complaints and the quality of the umpires. The craft had lost respect from player and coaches as umpiring had become deteriorated over the years. Tom retired and became the league’s first supervisor of umpires. He kept his supervisor post until 1954 and made sure that the high standards of the craft of umpire was maintained. Tom Connolly became know as the most knowledgeable expert of the Rules of Baseball.
TOM CONNOLLY UMPIRE ACHIEVMENTS
WORLD SERIES: EIGHT TIMES, 1903, 1908 (even numbered games 1910, 1911, 1913, 1916, 1920, and 1924)
Worked Home Plate for Addie Joss’ perfect game on October 2, 1908, one of four no-hitter that he worked the plate calling balls and strikes.
ADDIE JOSS PERFECT GAME OCTOBER 2, 1908
Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1953 as one of the first two umpires to achieve that standard. He was elected with Bill Klem of the National League. Connolly and Klem were the only umpires in history to have worked in five decades. Tom Connolly’s record of 31 years in the American League was only topped by Larry Barnett in 1999.
Tom lived a long life and passed away at the age of 90 in Natick, Massachusetts. His accomplishments on and off the field were stellar. Tom Connolly a professional umpire.