Behold Jack Russell Memorial Stadium in Clearwater, Florida:
They’ve been playing baseball here since 1955, back when it was built. Marty McFly could have visited it when he made his original trip back to 1955, if only Marty had gone to school in Florida and not California.
Why do I bring up Jack Russell Memorial Stadium here? Well, I came across an interesting fact about the stadium in the book “10 Things You Might Not Know About Nearly Everything: A collection of fascinating historical, scientific, and cultural facts about people, places, and things”, and is composed of some of the columns from the feature titled “10 Things You Might Not Know” that are published in the Chicago Tribune, written by Mark Jacob and Stephan Benzkofer.
A gentleman by the name of Wilbur Snapp (who passed away in 2003, at the age of 83, his NYT obituary can be found here) was playing the organ (aha! here’s the link) at said stadium one day in 1985 (another important year in the grand scheme of all things “Back to the Future”) and found himself disagreeing with a call made by an umpire at the game on that day.
Wilber Snapp, organist extraordinaire
Well, Wilbur was apparently not one to let this kind of thing slide, and let his feelings about the umpire’s call be known to one and all at the park that day via the organ: he started playing “Three Blind Mice”.
The umpire was also not one to let this kind of thing slide, and ejected Wilbur from the game.
So I guess when it comes to organist/umpire confrontations, the fact that the organist is not on the field but is up in the stands somewhere making musical commentary on the game doesn’t mean he’s not subject to the umpire’s powers of ejection.
Let that be a lesson to us all.
The biggest tragedy with regard to Mr. Snapp’s career as ballpark organist is that in 1997 the stadium switched over to using recorded music to accompany the ball games (boo! hiss!), thus ejecting him from his job one final time. Mr. Snapp, being a true baseball fan however, continued to attend the games as just another face in the crowd.
So, this year marks the 30th anniversary of Mr. Snapp’s ejection from the game of baseball for having the temerity to challenge the ump at his job, long may his baseball pennants wave.
And, for what it’s worth, the wikipedia has an informative article about the origins of the “Three Blind Mice” poem and it’s influence in popular culture here. Mr. Snapp gets a mention therein as well.
UPDATE: According to this obituary from the St. Petersberg Times, Mr. Snapp’s loss of his ballpark organist position was only temporary. It says that “the Phillies had a change of heart and rehired him, returning him and his organ console to the park. He missed six games.”
Good to know.