Don Denkinger was thought to be one of many most interesting major-league umpires of his time. Working within the American League from 1969 to 1998, he was assigned to 4 World Series and three All-Star Games.
But when Denkinger died Friday in Waterloo, Iowa, at 86, he was remembered largely for his famously botched name on baseball’s biggest stage.
In 1985, Denkinger was umpiring at first base in Game 6 of the World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Kansas City Royals. The Cardinals have been on the point of capturing the championship, main the Royals by three video games to 2 and forward by 1-0 with nobody out within the backside of the ninth inning. The Royals’ Jorge Orta, who led off, hit a bounder to the Cardinals’ first baseman, Jack Clark. He flipped the ball to the pitcher, Todd Worrell, who was protecting the bag.
Denkinger known as Orta protected although he was out by a few step. There was no tv instantaneous replay: Although the know-how existed, Major League Baseball didn’t start utilizing it till 2008. So Denkinger’s apparent missed name stood, infuriating the Cardinal supervisor, Whitey Herzog, his gamers and their followers.
After what turned generally known as “the decision,” the Royals staged a rally that got here to a head by the pinch-hitter Dane Iorg’s single for a 2-1 victory that pressured Game 7. Kansas City trounced the presumably dispirited Cardinals, 11-0 , the subsequent night time to seize the World Series title.
During the low season, Denkinger obtained loss of life threats. His Iowa house was given police safety, and the FBI investigated among the most troubling notes he obtained.
Years later, in 2015, he informed Sports Illustrated how he got here to make the decision that may outline his profession. “I used to be in a superb place, however Worrell is tall, the throw was excessive, and I could not watch his glove and his ft at the identical time. It was a comfortable toss, and there was a lot crowd noise, I could not hear the ball hit the glove.”
Donald Anton Denkinger was born on (*86*). 28, 1936, in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He attended Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, and joined its wrestling group. He served within the Army from 1957 to 1959, then started umpiring within the minor leagues in 1960. He labored the World Series in 1974, 1980, 1985 and 1991.
He was behind the plate for the 1978 Yankees-Boston Red Sox tiebreaking recreation for the AL pennant. He known as balls and strikes for Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, when the Minnesota Twins’ Jack Morris pitched a 10-inning shutout to finest the Atlanta Braves, 1-0, and for Nolan Ryan’s sixth no-hitter in 1990. His last recreation was in Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium on June 2, 1998. He retired after the season due to an ailing proper knee.
Denkinger’s daughter Denise Hanson introduced his loss of life. His survivors additionally embody his spouse, Gayle Price, and two different daughters.
He appeared at sports activities memorabilia reveals, together with one in St. Louis, and autographed pictures of “the decision” for followers. He stored a framed photograph of “the decision” at his house, and he displayed a portray depicting it at a restaurant he owned in Waterloo. Over the years Herzog reconciled with Denkinger, who spoke at a 2005 dinner for the Whitey Herzog Youth Foundation.
“Nobody desires to have the decision that I did within the World Series,” Denkinger informed The Associated Press in 2014. “But I did. And now it is a part of historical past.”
“I’m not bored with speaking about it,” he added. “I imply, it occurred. It’s simply that if the identical factor occurred now, they’d get it proper on replay, and it might be over with.”
Denkinger mirrored on the decision earlier than the 2014 World Series between the Royals and the San Francisco Giants, Kansas City’s first such berth since 1985.
“It’s life, and it goes on,” MLB.com quoted him as saying. “I’m clearly reminded continually that I made a mistake. You know what? I used to be an umpire for greater than 30 years within the main leagues. I do know I made a whole lot of errors. That one was simply blown out of proportion.”