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Updated: January 21, 2018
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(Story by Marco Stoovelaar; Photos by National Baseball Hall of Fame & Marco Stoovelaar)


...Doug Harvey...
(1930 - 2018)
(Photo: Marco Stoovelaar)
Iconic former Major League-umpire Doug Harvey passed away

VISALIA, California (USA) - Former Major League umpire Doug Harvey passed away due to natural causes on Saturday (January 13) at age 87. The very experienced Harvey was well-respected and beloved throughout his impressive career. In August 1997, he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, which was attributed to his longtime use of chewing tobacco. In 2010, Harvey, who was an iconic umpire, became the ninth umpire to be elected into the Hall of Fame.

Doug Harvey never attended an umpiring school, but he was one of the best umpires in history and was especially noted for his extensive knowledge of the rules and his consistent of calling balls and strikes. Harvey officiated 31 years in the Major League, all in the National League, and became a leader in officiating baseball games. In eighteen of these seasons, Harvey was a crew chief. In his long and impressive career, Harvey was an umpire in 4,673 games, the fifth highest total all-time. Harvey, who was easy recognizable with his white hair, retired after the 1992 season. His goal was to umpire until he was 65, but he retired at age 62 due to knee problems. Harvey was a consistent umpire and always made the correct calls. This, as well as his authority on the field and his deep voice, led to players giving him the nickname 'God'. Players also ranked him as 'excellent' frequently and also gave him the nickname 'Silver' because of the color of his hair.

...Doug Harvey as umpire in...
...the National League...
(© Photo: Baseball Hall of Fame)
Doug Harvey always kept his calm and was a leader when he was on the field, controlling the game. He also was respected for his communication with players, coaches and managers. This was also underscored in a statement from Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred. The statement read as follows: ,,Hall of Famer Doug Harvey was one of the most accomplished umpires of all-time. Known for his strong presence and communication skills, he umpired some of the most memorable moments ever, including from behind the plate for Kirk Gibson's walk-off home run to open the 1988 World Series. 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 his career, Harvey was involved in several memorable games. In the final game of the 1972 season, Harvey was the second base umpire when Roberto Clemente hit his 3,000th career basehit. This would be the final hit of his career, as the outfielder of the Pittsburgh Pirates died a few months later on December 31 during a relief-flight to Nicaragua that was struck by a severe earthquake a week earlier.

Doug Harvey was an umpire in five World Series, nine National League Championship Series and six All Star Games, two of them behind the plate. He became officiating sports games at a young age. Harvey was 16 when he was a referee at high school basketball games. He later also umpired softball games and at age 19, he made his debut as a baseball-umpire. After attending San Diego State College, Harvey became a professional baseball-umpire in 1958 at the Single-A level. In 1962, he made his debut in the National League in the very first game the Los Angeles Dodgers played in the then-new Dodger Stadium. During Harvey's career, umpires worked either in the National or American League. Since a few years, umpires are assigned in both leagues.

...Doug Harvey's plaque... the Hall of Fame...
Doug Harvey had three rules: Never take anything from a player, never back down from a call, and never carry a grudge. Whenever he ejected someone, that person began with a clean slate the next day. In later years of his career, Harvey conducted numerous clinics for both new and active umpires in both the USA as well as abroad. In February 1981, the webmaster of Grand Slam * Stats & News spoke with Doug Harvey during an Umpiring Clinic at Lindsey Air Station in Wiesbaden (Germany). The clinic was attended by five Dutch umpires from the big league and/or First Division. Harvey told me that he was a short stop and sometimes pitcher during his college-years. The then 20-year Major League-veteran underscored that timing is very important for umpires. Harvey: ,,In the past, umpires anticipated what would happened and sometimes already made a call while the ball was still underway, lifting their arm, anticipating the runner was out. I learned myself, and also tell that to new umpires, that you better can wait and delay your call a second to visualize the play for yourself and make sure that you make the correct one. The call then will be accepted, as players and coaches see that you look into the action. Another important thing is communication, don't walk away, but talk with a coach or player, explain your call, explain what you have seen.'' Harvey was a pioneer regarding waiting to make a call and popularized this technique. This became common amongst his umpiring colleagues and also has become common amongst (most) new umpires.

Harvey also spoke about being a professional umpire. ,,You travel a lot and stays in hotels. In a season, I sleep in my own bed maybe seven times in seven months. Therefore, it's important to enjoy what you're doing and have fun on the field.''

In 1992, Doug Harvey was ranked second-greatest umpire in history behind legendary Bill Klem. In December 2010, he was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee.

(January 14)

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