Doug Harvey remembered as umpire who changed the game
“Doug Harvey was the model that every umpire should strive to be,” said Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan. “He was tolerant to a point, yet the players always knew he was in control.”
Harvey worked 4,673 games during his 31 years in the big leagues, including nine National League Championship Series, five World Series and six All-Star Games. He served as a crew chief in 18 of his seasons.
By the prime of his career, Harvey’s silver hair, methodical-yet-authoritative signals and his commanding presence had earned him the nickname “god.”
Though he disdained polls that rated umpires against one another, Harvey usually found himself on top of those lists. In 1974, Harvey was ranked as the best umpire in the National League by the Major League Baseball Players’ Association – the only ump to receive an “excellent” rating. But Harvey responded with an open letter to the MLBPA, asking for a public apology for criticizing the rest of the umpires.
The accolades, however, kept coming. In 1999, Harvey was ranked as the second greatest umpire in baseball history, behind only Hall of Famer Bill Klem.
“My only ambition,” said Harvey, “has been to improve the profession.”
An admirable goal – and one that might have seemed unlikely for the man who became the last umpire hired in the big leagues without having attended umpire school.