on april 1, 1996 - opening day in cincinnati - home plate umpire john mcsherry collapsed and died of cardiac arrest. why then, you might ask, am i showing a card from the 1994 upper deck all-time heroes set featuring reggie jackson and lurking dodgers charlie hough and steve yeager?
i'm showing it because the umpire standing behind yeager, number 9 for the national league, is john mcsherry.
mcsherry began his umpiring career in 1971 and worked the world series in both 1977 (as seen above) and 1987. he also umpired in 10 different national league playoff series and three all-star games, and was calling the balls and strikes for larry dierker's no-hitter in 1976.
i am not sure why exactly, but the mets added a patch to their uniforms in honor of mcsherry for the remainder of the 1996 season. this 1997 fleer sports illustrated card of todd hundley shows the patch on his right sleeve
the patch is kind of hard to make out because it wasn't really a patch - it was actually embroidered as part of the jersey. here's a close up
it's a little more clear on bernard gilkey's 1997 topps card
and rey ordonez's 1997 upper deck card
which is the one i have in my memorials binder.
mcsherry's fellow umpires also wore memorials in 1996. as i recall, at first they wore black armbands as seen on brett butler's 1997 score card
but soon adopted the same embroidery that the mets sported. in fact, the mets could have adopted the umpires' memorial; i am not sure how that played out. in lieu of cards, here are some photos (from getty images) of umpires sporting the memorial in 1996
the umps, at some point, went to an actual patch. here are some photos showing the patch version of the memorial
brett butler, again, with eric gregg sporting the patch
this resulted in patch overload for the umpires in the world series - the mcsherry patch is high up on the left sleeve of the umpires' jacket
it wasn't just national league umpires that wore the patch - here's al clark to prove it
i was happy to find that photo - not just because of o'brien, but also because it showed the patch on the right sleeve of an al umpire wearing the navy shirt. that confirms for me that the patch is also shown on this 1997 pacific gary disarcina card
which is a great addition to the memorials binder. i also have this 2004 topps all-time fan favorite card of eric gregg
in the binder. how fortuitous that topps used a photo of gregg from 1996.
i do have an actual john mcsherry card in my collection, by the way. it comes from the 1989 t&m umpires set, and features mcsherry in dodger stadium.
as for mcsherry, he was 51 years old when he died. he weighed well over 300 pounds, and his passing encouraged major league baseball to work on addressing the health of its umpires. many, including gregg, lost weight as a result. unfortunately, following his departure from umpiring, gregg re-gained much of the weight he lost and he passed away at the age of 55 due to a stroke.