Called to Cooperstown

Umpire Doug Harvey relishes trip through Hall of Fame

May 07, 2010
Doug Harvey holds the plate from his final major league game in the Hall of Fame archives. (Milo Stewart Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

View a video the Hall of Fame's Erik Strohl giving a tour to Doug Harvey

Photo Gallery of Doug Harvey's Hall of Fame orientation visit

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – The last time Doug Harvey and his wife toured the Baseball Hall of Fame, they bought a ticket and walked around without anyone knowing they were there.

This time, they were accompanied by curators, media and photographers – and made the tour as an elected Hall of Famer.

Harvey and his wife of almost 50 years, Joy, were in Cooperstown on Friday for his Orientation Tour in preparation for his July 25th Induction. Harvey, Andre Dawson and Whitey Herzog will be enshrined as the Class of 2010 at the Hall of Fame in less than three months.

“This is really something. I am more than gratified. I am proud to be a part of it,” said Doug Harvey.

Umpiring 4,673 regular-season games during his career, Harvey umpired in five World Series – serving as the crew chief twice (1984 and 1988) – six All-Star Games and nine National League Championship Series. He will be the ninth umpire to be inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame and the first living umpire inducted since Al Barlick in 1989.

“I don’t know how anyone can say this isn’t the highlight of their career,” said Joy Harvey.

On the tour – where he got a detailed look at the Museum’s timeline and also saw artifacts from the archive – Harvey got a kick out of some of the old umpire equipment from the 1880s.

“I find it fascinating. I’ve always loved the history of the game,” he said.

As Harvey walked through the timeline, his memory of players and managers he worked with was still vivid even at the age of 80. Harvey recalled stories about Ted Williams, Steve Carlton, Mike Schmidt, Tom Seaver and Sandy Koufax.

“Willie Mays was the best baseball player I ever saw,” said Harvey. “He could do anything.”

Harvey saw his share of records during his 31-year big league career from 1962-92, including Roberto Clemente’s 3,000th and final hit on Sept. 30, 1972, when Harvey was the second base umpire at Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium. When it happened, Harvey was told to give Clemente the ball. It was only later that Harvey learned that Clemente had reached 3,000 hits.

Known for his knowledge of the rules and authoritative style, Harvey was one of the last major league umpires who didn’t attend umpiring school.

“It’s not about yelling – it’s how you handle them, and I could handle anyone,” Harvey said of his success.

He lived by the 20-second rule, giving managers that time to say what they needed to. He learned from other Hall of Fame umpires, including Barlick and Jocko Conlan. Harvey served with both on crews in the big leagues.

In the Museum archives, Harvey got to see artifacts he had donated during his career, including the home plate from his final game in 1992. But it was a ticket – one from the first major league game he worked on April 10, 1962, at Dodger Stadium – that brought his emotions to the surface.

“I worked third base,” Harvey said. “Ten years later, I found out that my dad finished up his route, took a bus – sleeping on the way there – watched the game, slept on the way home and went right back on his route.”

Hal Harvey, who had umpired games for his four sons when they were young, had a chrome plating business that would take him to other towns.

“He didn’t want to make me nervous, and I never knew he was there.”

Over the next thirty years, Harvey dealt with travel, injuries, heat and rain, and arguments with managers and players to become one of the best umpires in the history of the game. And like the other greats of the game, Harvey has earned the bronze plaque that will be placed in the Hall of Fame this summer.

“I just loved officiating,” he said. “And I hope what I did helped make it better. That’s what I tell young umpires, you can have fun. I never spent a day where going out on a baseball field didn’t make me feel better.”

Samantha Carr is the manager of web and digital media for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum