April 1, 1996: Cincinnati’s traditional Opening Day is marred by the death of home plate umpire John McSherry, who collapsed 7 pitches into the game against the Expos. McSherry seemed to motion for assistance in the direction of the field, turned and walked toward the backstop, and fell. Paramedics and doctors failed to revive McSherry on the field before a stunned crowd. After a discussion with the other three umpires, the two managers, and the players, it was decided to postpone the game until April 2, an open date on the schedule.

A coroner’s autopsy revaled that the 328 lb McSherry suffered “sudden cardiac” death. Starting his 26th season as a NL ump, McSherry had been scheduled to see a doctor on April 2 for an irregular heartbeat. Marge Schott displayed her propensity for making a difficult situation worse with some ill-advised comments. Although she said, “Nobody feels worse than me,” it was clear she was referring to the fact that the opener had to be postponed, and not about McSherry’s death. “I feel cheated,” said Schott after the game was postponed. “This isn’t supposed to happen to us, not Cincinnati. This is our history, our tradition, our team.” She further displayed her insensitivity in comments to the media, by repeatedly calling McSherry “the man” or “the umpire” instead of referring to him by name.

All “Reds trivia” posts come from Greg Rhodes and John Snyder’s fabulous book, “Redleg Journal” (see link for purchasing) and are used with Greg’s permission.

Thanks again to Greg Rhodes for permission to use his material.