Jayhawk Insider: Generations pay tribute to a family legend
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Three generations of the E.C. Quigley lineage gathered Friday afternoon on the University of Kansas campus to pay homage to the patriarch and legend himself.
Quigley directed the athletic programs at Kansas from 1944-50 and hired numerous KU greats including George Sauer, J.V. Sikes, Bill Easton and Dick Harp. The leadership he instilled helped erase a then-$113,000 debt on Memorial Stadium – but his legend began far before his stop at Kansas.
“E.C. was a lawyer by education, but he never practiced law,” Henry “Dutch” Quigley (great-grandson) said. “He had a fascination with officiating and did that for forty years.”
E.C.’s legend began after he suffered a broken hand playing professional baseball and forced him to turn to officiating. It is estimated that he officiated over 400 football games, 5,400 major league baseball games and 1,500 basketball contests in those 40 years, including three Rose Bowls and six World Series.
He spent 23 years in the National League as an umpire, supervisor of umpires and public relations director. He also worked several NCAA tournaments and the 1936 Olympic basketball finals.
“He (E.C.) had a tremendous focus on the rules side of the game to promote fair competition,” Dutch said. “He was the head umpire for Major League Baseball and a lot of the rules they use today came from him. He wanted all the umpires to make the same call all the time no matter what game or day it was.”
E.C.’s umpire prowess included the 1919 World Series between the Chicago White Sox and the Cincinnati Reds.
“My grandfather umpired the plate during the Black Sox Scandal,” Henry Quigley (grandson) said. “He and the rest of the umpire crew had to testify and were found innocent during the scandal.”
His integrity on the field didn’t go unnoticed and because of that, he earned a special invitation across the Pacific Ocean.
“He (E.C.) was such a legend in the game that Emperor Hirohito of Japan invited him and Ty Cobb over to Japan to teach them the game of baseball,” Henry said. “It is crazy to think about, because you are talking about crossing the Pacific Ocean in the 1920’s.”
Some historians estimate that E.C. logged more than 100,000 miles a year during his officiating career, one that ended as the Director of Athletics at Kansas, where he was also a member of the NCAA Football Rules Committee from 1946-54.
E.C.’s reputation and commitment to fair play earned him a spot in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1961 – one year following his death.
“I was 19 when my grandfather E.C. passed away,” Henry said. “I can still remember all the stories he used to tell and they always consisted with the names Phog Allen and Bill Easton.”
A six-person entourage joined Henry and Dutch on their tour of the athletics facility that included a stop at Hoglund Ballpark, where “Quigley Field” used to stand.
The six family members included: Mary M Quigley (Henry’s wife); Helen (Dutch’s wife) and Henry “Hunter” (E.C.’s great-great grandson) Quigley; Larry and Michele (Quigley – E.C.’s great-granddaughter) Gress; and Kyle Gress (E.C.’s great-great grandson).
The octet came to Lawrence to celebrate Amanda Gress’ (E.C.’s great-great granddaughter) wedding and relive the great history of the patriarch of their family, E.C. Quigley.
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