Last week I was watching one of the quarterfinals episodes of Baseball IQ that had aired on MLB Network. (If you missed it, this show pitted a representative of each MLB team plus one from MLB.com and the Hall of Fame in a single elimination trivia tournament that raised money for each team’s charity.) Rather than just a question/answer format, the show required that each of the two contestants populate lists based on a statistical prompt from the host, e.g. “name the all-time National League home run leaders with at least 300 home runs”. The contestants then alternated giving an answer until one of them supplied an incorrect response.
During the matchup between representatives of the D-Backs and Rockies, one of the categories prompted the contestants to name the pitchers who had at least 8 postseason wins. As an intro to the category, they played a video of Bob Gibson – who finished his career with 7 postseason wins – striking out George Scott of the Red Sox to end game 7 of the 1967 World Series. Included in the video was the ensuing celebration of the newly world champion St. Louis Cardinals. Check it out here.
Did you see what happened at about the 4:31 mark? No, your eyes are not deceiving you. That was the third base umpire running up to the Cardinals mob and taking the hat right off the head of one of the celebrating Cardinals players. It also appears that he had a hat in his hand before nabbing the second. According to the baseball-reference account of this game, the third base umpire for this game was Augie Donatelli.
Augie passed away in 1990 and is credited with starting the Major League Umpires Association and was known for his quick and dramatic trigger when it came to ejecting players and coaches. Based on this video, it appears he should have also been known for confiscating portions of uniforms from players celebrating on the field. What would an umpire do with two Cardinals hats? How did he get the first one? What did he do with them after the fact – sell them, eat dinner out of them?
Sadly, I am not writing to proclaim that I have solved this mystery. Instead, I am hoping that some aspiring baseball historian will make it their life’s goal to figure out why Donatelli took the hats and what became of them. This LA Times article from 1987 is the only info I could find – Donatelli claims the hats were “falling off”. Sounds fishy to me. This post is proof that the nwe baseball season cannot come fast enough.