McSherry saw exciting finish on tape in hospital room

October 16, 1992|By Jerome Holtzman | Jerome Holtzman,Chicago Tribune

ATLANTA -- Big John McSherry, the veteran National League umpire, awoke yesterday in Room 381 at the Piedmont Hospital and flipped on his television.

"I didn't want to watch last night," McSherry explained. "I was too embarrassed by what happened."

So he saw the replay of the Atlanta Braves' 3-2 ninth-inning victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the seventh and final game of the National League Championship Series.

"I didn't see it pitch-by-pitch," McSherry said. "But they showed every batter."

Of course, the replay included the lead-footed Sid Bream, in slow motion, scoring the winning run on a bang-bang play at the plate.

"Good call," McSherry said. "Randy was in perfect position. He got it right."

He was speaking of Randy Marsh, who opened the game at first base but took the plate when the Braves came to bat in the home half of the second inning. The chief of the six-man playoff crew, McSherry had the plate assignment in Games 1 and 7.

"There I was, seven innings away from finishing the season, and I wind up in the hospital," McSherry said. "It was very embarrassing."

McSherry, 22 years in the league, said he was "pumped up" when he took the field. He began feeling dizzy when the Pirates were batting in the top half of the first inning.

"I'm not sure who was batting; I think it was Orlando Merced, their fifth batter," McSherry said. McSherry finished the inning. An inning later, when the Braves were coming to bat in their half of the second, McSherry walked almost halfway down the first-base line. He bent over and put his hands on his knees.

"I told Randy to come in from first base and to get dressed," McSherry recalled.

At the time, Bill White, the NL president, watching from a nearby box seat, realized something was wrong. White called McSherry over.

"What's the matter?" White asked.

"I told Bill I was tired and feeling dizzy," McSherry said.

The game was held up for 11 minutes. Marsh hurried to the umpire's dressing room. Ed Montague, the second senior man, came in from right field and took Marsh's place at first base.

While Marsh was changing into his plate equipment, a call was put through to McSherry's home in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.

"They knew my friends were watching the game on television," McSherry said. "Bill wanted to tell everyone I was OK, but I was being taken to the hospital."

It was only the second time in his professional career that McSherry had to leave in midgame.

"And it was such a big game," he said. "The worst thing was the embarrassment."

A big man, 6 feet 3 inches and more than 300 pounds, McSherry got out of bed for a glass of water. He pulled at the skimpy hospital gown.

"I missed being there. It was my game."

He remained in the hospital last night and was advised he would be able to go home today.

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