Rogan: Sports’ Forgotten Heroes: Hank O’Day

From SABR member Warren Rogan at Sports’ Forgotten Heroes on June 5, 2019, with SABR member Dennis Bingham:

Hank O’Day is one of the most unique and important figures in the history of Major League Baseball. He broke into the game as a pitcher in the American Association for Toledo in 1884. He finished his career seven years later with the New York Giants. During his career, on occasion, O’Day stepped out onto the field as an umpire and when his playing days concluded, he turned to umpiring permanently. Well, sort of. In 1912, O’Day stepped back into the dugout as the manager of the Cincinnati Reds and went 75-78. He was let go after that one season. In 1914, the Chicago Cubs hired O’Day to be their manager and he went 78-76 and was again let go after just one season. So, O’Day put his mask back on and went back out on the field as a manager and ultimately spent the better part of three decades calling games.

Major League Baseball officials consulted O’Day throughout his career and after his days on the field were over to discuss the rules of the game, what new rules should be instituted, which rules should be tweaked and which rules should be abolished. Sometimes they agreed with Hank and on other occasions they didn’t, which of course, disturbed O’Day greatly. O’Day was also on the field to make one of the most famous calls in baseball history, the call that led to the New York Giants and Chicago Cubs tying 1-1 in the heat of the 1908 pennant race … the famous “Merkle Boner” game. O’Day dedicated his life to the game he loved so much probably to the detriment of enjoying a normal personal life. He was basically a hermit.

Dennis Bingham, who umpires games in the Chicago-area, and is a member of SABR, is one of the most foremost authorities on the career of Hank O’Day and he joins Sports’ Forgotten Heroes for an in-depth conversation on one of the most interesting and unique figures in baseball history.

Listen to the full podcast here:

Related link: Read our biography of Hank O’Day at the SABR BioProject

Originally published: June 5, 2019. Last Updated: June 5, 2019.