Sportsman Park, St Louis, MO, September 19, 1939 – Dodgers skipper Leo Durocher argues with umpire after being ejected

Sportsman Park, St Louis, MO, September 19, 1939 – Dodgers skipper Leo Durocher argues with umpire after being ejected

Brooklyn rookie skipper Leo Durocher is in a heated discussion with umpire Bick Campbell after getting tossed for arguing balls and strikes with home plate ump George Magerkurth during a Dodgers Tuesday contest against the Cardinals.

Before we delve more into this photo and the background I would like to thank my friend Jay Gauthreaux for finding this photo and Baseball Hall of Fame senior curator Tom Shieber for not only pinpointing the date of the image but the history behind it as well.

In the game Durocher, already in prime form with the umpires in his first year as a Major League manager, was ejected by Magerkurth for his constant chirping on his calls on balls and strikes. In typical and combative fashion for Durocher, he refused to yield and leave the dugout, hence fellow umpire Campbell having what I’m sure was a colorful dialogue with “Leo the Lip”.

Eventually after forfeit of the game was threatened by the umpires, Durocher would leave the dugout for the locker room and play resumed.

The next day Leo received a wire from National League president Ford Frick stating: “For refusal to leave bench and delaying game yesterday you are fined $25, payable to his office in five days”.

This new mulct now brought the season total of fines for Durocher to $150.

For his part the feisty manager said he would appeal the fine on the grounds that he didn’t use foul language and plus he didn’t have any coaches to take over the helm for the rest of the game, a game that they lost to the Cards by a 6-1 score.

Despite his antics and the Dodgers loss, Durocher’s style of managing was opening eyes around the league with the Dodgers “snappy ball playing”, even “Big George” Magerkurth, the umpire who chased Leo, had kind words about the ousted skipper after the game commenting about the great job he was doing with the Dodgers, at the time 74-64 and battling for third place with the Chicago Cubs.

As for details of the game played in front of just 1,717, the Dodgers could only muster up five hits against Cardinals southpaw Max Lanier, who got the complete game win, his first win of the 1939 campaign. He was aided by the bats of Joe Medwick (2 RBIs) and Enos Slaughter (RBI, double) as St Louis was chasing the Cincinnati Reds for the National League pennant and cutting the lead to just 2.5 games, thanks to a Reds 13-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.


– Ron A. Bolton


Photo Source – Jay Gauthreaux
Info Source – Tom Shieber
Other Info Source – St Louis Dispatch; Brooklyn Daily Eagle (September 20, 1939 editions)


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