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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Umpire Suffers Fatal Collapse in Game


CINCINNATI, Ohio -- The start of the National League baseball season was clouded when umpire John McSherry, 51, collapsed in the first inning of a game between the Cincinnati Reds and Montreal Expos and died of a heart attack.

McSherry, beginning his 25th National League season, was working behind the plate Monday when he called time, waved for umpire Steve Rippley at first base, then turned and began walking toward a gate behind the plate.

He collapsed on the dirt track that borders the field and never regained consciousness as paramedics and trainers from both teams administered CPR, another umpire, Jerry Crawford, said.

McSherry, who was 1.88 meters tall and weighed 147 kilograms, was pronounced dead at University of Cincinnati Hospital. A hospital spokesperson said McSherry was a victim of "sudden cardiac death," in which the heart beats out of control.

The game, which was initially set to resume, was canceled at the insistence of players on both teams and was to be replayed from the start Tuesday, a scheduled day off for both teams.

"There was no way we could have gone out and played," Cincinnati catcher Eddie Taubensee said. "Whether it's an umpire or not, we're still a community. It wouldn't have been fair to the other umpires, and it certainly wouldn't have been fair to John. I mean, we may yell and scream about certain calls, but we still love each other. It was the same as if it had happened to one of us."

McSherry had a history of medical problems but had passed a required physical for umpires in February.

McSherry was believed to be the first major league umpire to be fatally stricken during a game. Ray Chapman is the only player to die after an on-field accident -- he was beaned by Carl Mays in 1920 and died shortly thereafter.

Taubensee said McSherry had been in good spirits and had joked "with me before the first pitch and said I could go ahead and call [balls and strikes during] the first two innings."

In Houston, where the Dodgers opened with a 4-3 win over the Astros, Los Angeles center fielder Brett Butler said, "Two years ago, I was talking to John and we were talking about his health problems, when he told me, `You know something? I'd just as soon die out here than anywhere else.' When I heard about it today, I said, 'Wow, what a way to go. Opening day. All of the festivities.' I mean, he loved the game so much, that's the way he wanted it."

Said Dodger bench coach Bill Russell, "We started out together. He gave me my first fine. I struck out five times, threw my bat, and he fined me $100. He was a special man."

Cubs 5, Padres 4, 10 innings. In Chicago, Ryne Sandberg returned to baseball with a big ovation when introduced before the game, and a louder and longer one when he batted in the bottom of the first. It was his first game since June 10, 1994, when he abruptly retired. Sandberg, the National's League's MVP in 1984, went 0-for-3 with two walks.

Braves 10, Giants 8. In Atlanta, Greg Maddux allowed nine hits and four runs in 5 2/3 innings as the Braves opened defense of their World Series championship with a victory over San Francisco.

The Braves, who received their World Series rings before the game, hit five homers off three Giants pitchers.

Ryan Klesko, Jeff Blauser, Fred McGriff, Mark Lemke and Jerome Walton homered for the Braves.

Blue Jays 9, Athletics 6. In Las Vegas, John Olerud, Alex Gonzalez and Domingo Cedeno homered off Carlos Reyes, making just his 11th career start.

The A's were forced to leave Oakland Coliseum for their first six games because of uncompleted renovations.

It was the first major league game at a minor league ballpark since Sept. 3, 1957, when Philadelphia beat Brooklyn 3-2 in 12 innings at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, New Jersey. ()

(For other results, see Scorecard.)