Robert Emslie was born in Guelph on January 27th, 1859. He went on to have a long and storied career in Major League Baseball.
As a teenager he was a pitcher in cities like London, St. Thomas and Guelph.
By 1883 he found himself playing for the Baltimore Orioles in the American Association. The following year he used his devastating curve ball to fashion a sparkling 32-17 record (still a record as the most ever wins by a Canadian in a single season).
However, what looked like a long and successful career came to an early end when a bad arm forced him to the leave the majors just two seasons later.
By 1891 he signed on as an umpire in the National League where he would work for an amazing 35 years. According to a famous story, Emslie, irritated that Giant’s manager John McGraw had called him a “blind robber”, showed up at a Giants’ practice with a rifle, placed a dime on the pitching rubber and then with a shot fired from behind home plate, sent the coin spinning into the outfield. Reportedly, McGraw never again challenged his eyesight.
Upon his retirement he acted as Umpire-in-Chief and an advisor to the President of the National League.
He was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1986.
Inducted into the Guelph Sports Hall of Fame – Athlete / Builder categories – on May 12, 2004