Cy Rigler

One of baseball’s most illustrious umpires, Rigler was a mountain of a man who stood over 6 feet and weighed 240. In 1903 he played right tackle for the original Massillon Tigers professional football team. He later coached football and baseball at the University of Virginia and was athletic advisor to many colleges. He is usually credited with beginning the practice of signaling strikes with the upward movement of his right arm. However, the oft-repeated explanation that he did it for the benefit of deaf player Dummy Hoy is unlikely since Hoy was out of the majors by the time Rigler arrived. A more likely version is that Rigler began using signals while at Evansville, Indiana during his second year as a pro umpire. Then when Rigler came to the majors he found that his signal system had preceded him. Rigler called Sam Rice‘s controversial “mystery catch” in the 1925 WS, when the Senators’ Rice fell backward into the temporary bleachers while pursuing a long drive off the bat of Pirates batter Earl Smith. Rice refused to talk about it but left a letter to be opened after his death. Rice died in 1974; the letter stated he had made the catch as Rigler called it.