In 1933 McGowan was one of that "great clan of probity," in the words of Yale professor Billy Phelps, who were given the honor of working the first All-Star Game. In a 16-plus year period, McGowan reportedly worked 2,541 consecutive games. An AL umpire for 30 years, he never shrank from making the tough calls. One of his decisions cost Lou Gehrig sole possession of the 1931 home run title. That April 26, Gehrig hit the ball into the centerfield bleachers in Washington, but the ball popped back out of the stands and into the outfielder's hands, confusing baserunner Lyn Lary, who slowed down. Gehrig kept running and accidentally passed Lary on the basepaths, and McGowan called Gehrig out to end the inning. At season's end, Gehrig's total of 46 home runs left him tied for the league lead with teammate Babe Ruth. (RTM)
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»June 7, 1938:
Umpire Bill McGowan orders Cleveland P Johnny Allen to cut off part of a shirt sleeve which dangles as he pitches, distracting the batter. Allen refuses and walks off the mound. He is fined $250, and the shirt later makes its way to the Hall of Fame museum in Cooperstown, NY.
»August 15, 1945:
Umpire Ernie Stewart is canned by American League President Will Harridge for "disloyalty." Stewart had complained about the pay and taken his case to Chandler. Bill McGowan is the top-paid umpire in the league at $9,000.
»July 20, 1948: An unprecedented 10-game suspension and $500 fine of an umpire, the veteran Bill McGowan, is announced by American League President Will Harridge following a confrontation in the Washington-Cleveland game. Tired of Senator pitcher Ray Scarborough continually complaining about strike calls, McGowan had thrown a ball-and-strike indicator at him. After that he ejects Nats manager Joe Kuhel and several coaches. Kuhel also lodged a protest after yesterday's 11th inning loss when Ed Stewart was thrown out at home in the 10th. When Stewart argued the call with plate ump Paparella, McGowan threw a ball at Stewart.
»June 12, 1952:
The AL suspends Browns manager Marty Marion indefinitely for pushing umpire Bill McGowan in the previous night's 7-5 loss to Boston.
»August 7, 1952:
Umpire Bill McGowan is suspended indefinitely by the AL. In a game in St. Louis, McGowan had thrown out Tiger P Billy Hoeft, who had been heckling him from the dugout. When St. Louis writers, who had had a stormy relationship over the years with the veteran McGowan, ask him to identify the player, the umpire refuses, then adds an obscene gesture. The writers'
complaint results in a suspension.