There may never again be a big-league umpire as colorful as the late George Magerkurth. A one-time prizefighter, Magerkurth was one umpire who relished a fight. He is credited with being the only umpire in major- league history who, when hit by a pop bottle thrown by an irate fan, picked it up and threw it back into the stands, hitting the original throw er with it. He was the only umpire who ever got the upper hand in the matter of conversation with Leo “The Lip” Durocher, the most tempestuous umpire baiter of modern times.
Big Mage was umpiring at first one day when Lippy Durocher was coaching there. That noted umpire fighter was in rare conversational form. But after five or six innings, Lippy’s yakking got on the arbiter’s nerves.
“For goshsakes, Leo, shut up!” roared Magerkurth. “One more word out of you, and you’re out of the game!”
The threat zipped up The Lip. For it was an important game, and Durocher wanted to stick around. But an inning later, one of Durocher’s players was called out at first on a hair-line play. The Lip couldn’t take a chance on a vocal protest, so instead he simulated a faint, keeling over backwards, to fall flat on the ground. Umpire Magerkurth bridled at the travesty. He studied the fallen manager for a minute, and then he roared:
“The runner is still out. And you, Durocher, dead or alive, you’re out of the game, too.”