Historic Baseball

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Cal Drummond

Calvin Drummond
: June 29, 1917 in Ninety Six, SC 
Died: May 3, 1970 in Des Moines, Iowa
Pos: AL Umpire

Cal Drummond was on the verge of overcoming a serious injury and returning to the job he loved — being an American League umpire. Tragedy struck, however, on May 3, 1970, just a day before the 52-year-old was scheduled to return to the Majors.

Drummond, an American League umpire from 1960-1969, saw his career put on hold in 1969 when a foul ball struck him in the head. The injury was serious and Drummond required brain surgery that would leave him unconscious for two weeks.

He fought back, however, and called some games at Erskine College (in Due West, S.C.). From there, he traveled to spring training to call some more games.

From there, he was on to Des Moines, Iowa, to work  some games between American Association rivals, the Iowa Cubs and Oklahoma City 89ers, when the problems began. In the May 2 game, Drummond had reported some dizziness and numbness in his head near the area that he had previously injured.

The next day, May 3, 1970, he removed himself from the game in the 7th inning, reporting dizziness. He collapsed in the dugout and died a few hours later at the local hospital in Des Moines.

He had been scheduled to travel to Kansas City, a few hours later, to begin his assignment in the American League.

“I don’t know where I’ll go, but it doesn’t make any difference as long as I can get back to work up there,” Drummond had said in an interview with the Greenwood (SC) Index-Journal a little over a week before his death. On that night, he had thrown out the first pitch to being the 1970 season for the Greenwood Braves.

“I’m really anxious to get back,” he said. “I feel better when I’m working and right now, I feel better than I have felt in a long time.”

An autopsy revealed the cause of death to be a cerebral hemorrhage in the area near his previous brain injury.

He once described his profession as being one that was not for the thin-skinned.

“The worst thing that can happen to a man is to be born with guts and be an umpire,” he said.

His bigger assignments included the 1966 World Series and the 1961 and 1963 All-Star games. In the 1961 game, he had been part of a crew that had to decide on a strange play. A balk was called when Stu Miller, a small pitcher, was blown off the mound by the wind at Candlestick Park.

Sources: Index-Journal