Hall of Fame Baseball Umpire. The son of a Chicago policeman, the 5-foot-7, 160-pound outfielder quit baseball in 1933 after having nine solid seasons in Triple-A at Rochester, Newark, Toledo and Montreal without ever getting a chance to play in the big leagues. But the White Sox, with whom had been a batboy in his youth, needed help after injuries to outfielders Mule Haas and Evar Swanson and signed Conlan as a fill-in in mid-1934. The left-handed batter hit .249 with 11 doubles in 63 games and impressed enough to be invited back in 1935. Then fate stepped in. Umpire Red Ormsby was overcome by the heat during a doubleheader in sizzling St. Louis. In those days only two umpires officiated the games. Conlan, who was nursing a sprained thumb, volunteered to be the umpire on the bases, and worked the contest in his White Sox's uniform. Ormsby was unable to work the following day, and Conlan stepped in again. He then decided on a career change and worked in the New York-Penn League in 1936 and 1937 and the American Association in 1938 to 1940. He was back in the major leagues in 1941, and veteran National League umpire Bill Klem took him under his wing. From the start he was a no-nonsense umpire who would toss anyone who cursed during an argument. There were 26 ejections during his rookie year. On August 19, 1941, Pittsburgh manager Frankie Frisch was ejected after going onto the field with an umbrella to protest the rainy conditions at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field. Artist Norman Rockwell used that incident to paint his famous rainy-day argument. Conlan was noted for his polka-dot tie, Irish wit and clashes with Leo Durocher, Frisch and other firebrands. Durocher, then a coach with the Los Angeles Dodgers, got the worse of a kicking match with the arbiter after being ejected in a game in 1961. Durocher kicked dirt onto the umpire, but Conlan, who was wearing shin guards and steel-toe shoes, kicked back. "Every time Jocko kicked me, he raised on a lump on my shins," Durocher said. "Every time I kicked him, I bruised my toes. All at once it occurred to me that these were the lousiest odds I'd ever come up against." He umpired for 27 years and officiated six All-Star Games, five World Series (1945, 1950, 1954, 1957 and 1961) and four National League playoffs (1946, 1951, 1959 and 1962). He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1974. His lifetime playing record showed a .263 average (96 for 365), 18 doubles, four triples and 31 runs batted in. He was part of history on July 1, 1923, when for the first time in the minor leagues four consecutive hitters belted home runs. He was with Wichita of the Western League, when he (batting second), Lyman Smith, Wes Griffin and Jim Blakesley connected off Tulsa's Karl Black as the first four hitters in the first game of a doubleheader.
Bio by: Ron Coons
Ruth Sophie Anderson Conlan