A showing of extremely poor sportsmanship was exhibited on this day in 1911 in a baseball game between the Giants of Beach, North Dakota and the Wibaux, Montana Tigers. The two teams were notorious rivals, and had already played seven games against each other during the course of the 1911 season. Of those games, Beach had won three, and the Tigers were up with four victories. The game on this day, therefore, determined whether or not the Tigers would pull ahead and settle the rivalry for the year, or if the Giants would pull through and leave the score at a standstill once again. The fact that the game was in the Tigers’ hometown increased their confidence for a victory.
Tensions were running high during the game, and the unseemly behavior of several players only reinforced the stress felt by both sides. The worst of the displays occurred during the second half of the eighth inning. The Tigers were up to bat, and the Beach umpire was making the calls. With the Giants leading six to two, the Tigers were feeling the home crowd pressure. After the umpire called a Tigers’ player out on the third strike, Wibaux’s center fielder, Mr. Peterson, and the team’s catcher, Mr. McGarry, formed a difference of opinion. Peterson threw himself on top of the umpire and drove his knees into the man’s chest after the two players had knocked the ‘ump’ over by punching him in the chest. Amazingly, the umpire overlooked this act of poor sportsmanship and carried on with the ballgame.
Peterson, one of the angry attackers, was the next batter for the Tigers. He was also called out on the pitcher’s third strike. The livid batter immediately swung around to the umpire and struck him in the jaw. While the umpire was regaining his composure, the man quickly retrieved his bat and attempted to swing a blow to the umpire’s head. Fortunately, his teammates seized Peterson just in time to prevent him from striking the dazed umpire. Again, the patient, but by this time rather exhausted, umpire allowed the game to continue. Incredibly, he even let the two players finish the match without penalty! And we thought that athletes got away with a lot of mischief these days. Justice did prevail on that day back in 1911, however, as the Giants triumphed over the ill-mannered Tigers with a score of six to two.
WRITTEN BY JAYME JOB
Source: Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, Evening Ed. July 5, 1911: p. 3.