He was working as the plate umpire in the game between the Cubs and the Giants, which ended when Al Bridwell's single drove in the apparent winning run. However, base runner Fred Merkle never advanced from first base to second, in keeping with the common practice of the era. When the Cubs produced a ball – not necessarily the game ball, which had been thrown into the stands – and claimed a force play at second base, which would negate the run, the debate erupted.
Emslie, who as base umpire had been watching the play at first base to verify that the batter had reached base, had not seen the play at second. O'Day ruled that the force play had been valid and that the run did not count, causing the game to end in a tie. It is noteworthy that at that time, Emslie and O'Day ranked as the two longest-serving umpires in major league history. – Wikipedia bio on O’Day
Go figure; a dude born in Chicago, umpiring at a Cubs game, and who later ended up managing the Cubs six years later ended up being the guy who had the balls the size of the attitude at The Weiner’s Circle to make that call. Nice!
O’Day hung it up at the end of the 1927 season. One can only assume that after witnessing the greatest New York Yankees team ever assembled drove him away from the game. (The last sentence I made up… sort of) In the years afterward O’Day served as an umpiring scout, but passed away in 1935 after contracting bronchial pneumonia and stomach cancer.
Despite the lack of player talent not being elected into the Hall of Fame this season, the Veteran’s Committee was at least wise enough to finally elect O’Day into the umpires’ shrine. He will be the 10th umpire to being given such an honor.