Hall of Fame Umpire Nicknamed 'God' Dies

'A generation of umpires learned as a result of Doug's example'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 15, 2018 12:16 AM CST
Hall of Fame Umpire Nicknamed 'God' Dies
In this Oct. 11, 1980 photo, plate umpire Doug Harvey gestures before play resumes in the fourth inning of a baseball game between the Astros and Phillies in Houston.   (AP Photo/Brian Horton, File)

Doug Harvey was so sure of his calls on the diamond, he ended every game the same way. Following the last out, the umpire took his wad of chewing tobacco and flung it on home plate. "I never did have any doubt in my mind," he once said. "The only thing in my mind was, 'Bring it on, suckers!'" One of only 10 umpires in the Hall of Fame, and held in such regard by major league players and managers they called him "God," Harvey died Saturday, the AP reports. He was 87. Harvey umpired in the National League from 1962 through 1992, and was a crew chief for 18 seasons. He worked five World Series, including the plate for Kirk Gibson's extraordinary home run in the 1988 opener, and six All-Star Games. His 4,673 games in the regular season rank fifth. After developing oral cancer in 1997, he publicized the dangers of smokeless tobacco.

Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement: "A generation of umpires learned as a result of Doug's example, his eagerness to teach the game, and his excellent timing behind the plate." In particular, Harvey would take an extra split-second to call a play, to be sure he got it right. Over his 31 seasons, Harvey ejected 58 people. The first person he tossed was Joe Torre, as a player in 1962; his last ejection was Torre, too, as a manager in 1992. "You always respected him because he came out to do his job and (did it) with a lot of class," once recalled Torre, a fellow Hall of Famer. A tenet of Harvey's life both at home and on the field was to let bygones be bygones. "I always tell my wife, if you're looking for something to put on my gravestone," Harvey once said, "put down: 'He was an honest man and he never held a grudge.'" (More umpire stories.)

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