21 October 2014

a black armband for harry pulliam

in 1909, all national league clubs wore a black armband in the memory of harry pulliam, the league's president who committed suicide during the 1909 season.  this 2004 fleer greats card of honus wagner
shows the pirates' version of the armband, and this 1991 conlon tsn card of al bridwell
shows the new york giants' version.

pulliam had been the league's president since 1902, overseeing the establishment of the modern world series in 1903.  as the league's first president, a line of cigars were distributed in his honor in 1903.  in 1908, pulliam was called upon to rule on the 'merkle boner', and he sided with the cubs who had protested that merkle did not touch second base and so was forced out, nullifying the giants' winning run in a late season game.  the two teams were tied atop the standings at the season's end, and so the game was replayed and the cubs won, denying the giants the pennant that they would have secured if the protested game had not been lost.

the decision weighed heavy on pulliam, and it is believed that the criticism he received along with other stresses of his position is what drove him to shoot himself in the head at the new york athletic club in july of 1909.  he was just 40 years old. following his death, a ritual of distributing a card featuring pulliam's photo to players and team personnel prior to the first game of the world series each year was established as a way to remember pulliam and his contribution to the game.  while this commemoration apparently lasted only into the 1920's, i figured it was fitting to post about the memorial armband worn in his honor today - the day that the first game of the 2014 world series will be played.

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