Dick Higham

Higham was the only ML umpire ever dismissed for cheating. When he was a hard-hitting outfielder in the National Association and early NL, the English-born Higham was the subject of rumors that his play was not always on the level. Even though he led the NL in doubles in 1876 and 1978 and in runs scored in ’78, his reputation for shady dealings curtailed his ML career. Nevertheless, the NL hired him as an umpire after his playing days ended, apparently because he had sometimes umpired in the NA. In 1882 William Thompson, the mayor of Detroit and president of the Wolverines baseball team, became convinced that Higham was consistently calling close decisions against Detroit. Thompson hired a private detective who turned up a letter that Higham had mailed to a well-known gambler in which he outlined a simple telegram code on how and when to bet. “Buy all the lumber you can!” meant bet on Detroit. No telegram meant bet against them. Thompson and the other owners confronted Higham and he was banished from baseball. Reportedly, the crooked ump went back to Chicago and became a bookkeeper.