On June 23, 1911, things got a bit rowdy in Cincy, as Umpire Bill Klem decked the Cardinals manager Roger Bresnahan following an 8-7 loss against the Reds. The incident began as the Cards made a furious charge at tying the ballgame by scoring four runs that brought the club within one run of tying the ballgame. They were down to their final out, but had the Redlegs on the ropes, with Bobby Keefe doing everything he could to hold onto to the lead. The Cincinnati hurler had a runner sitting on third, and Cardinals third baseman Mike Mowery at the dish. Keefe fired two called strikes passed the batter. Bresnahan thought the pitcher balked on the second of the two, so he went into a tirade that ended with a haste, as the ump closed his right fist and let him have it. Before he knew what happened, the Cardinals skipper was being separated from Klem before he could return a retaliatory blow.
By all accounts, Bresnahan did not so much as use foul language toward Klem, or raise a hand to him. The skipper immediately said he would be wiring the National League President Tom Lynch, and hoped that Klem would be dismissed as an umpire in the league. That was not going to happen. Bill Klem was known as one of the best in the business when it came to calling balls and strikes, and this one incident would not lead to any sort of banishment. It did lead to a $50 fine, which may not sound like a lot, but that $50 would equate to more than $1,200 today. Bresnahan was not disciplined, however, Lynch made it be known that charging an umpire after a game would not be tolerated, and the next skipper to do so would be made an example of.
This one incident hardly altered the legacy of Bill Klem. In fact, he is a legend of the game who is represented in Cooperstown, New York. He held a post on the diamond from 1905 to 1941. He could be a hard-nosed no nonsense type of guy, however, he was also known as a fair umpire who helped the game develop through making calls using hand signals, as well as helping other umpires know where to stand in order to be able to make the right calls during a game. Like Klem, Bresnahan was also destined to be represented in the hallowed halls of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and like Klem he helped revolutionize the game by becoming the first catcher to wear shin guards and other protective gear that would evolve into the gear the men wear today. They each made their mark. It just seems that Klem really made a mark on Bresnahan on that day in June of 1911.
"Baseball is more than a game to me. It's a religion." ~Bill Klem
Both Klem and Bresnahan have SABR bios which you can check out by clicking on the links below.