INDIANAPOLIS – Whitey Herzog spent a good, long time stewing about a blown call in the 1985 World Series. So in a strange way, perhaps this fits: He’s going into the Hall of Fame, standing next to an umpire.
Herzog and prominent crew chief Doug Harvey got the call Monday, elected to the Hall by the Veterans Committee.
Herzog was a single vote short in his previous try, and he might’ve made it sooner with another crown on his résumé. But he was forever linked to Don Denkinger after the ump’s infamous miss in Game 6 so long ago cost the St. Louis Cardinals a chance to clinch.
“No, I’m not bitter at Denkinger,” Herzog said at Busch Stadium. “He’s a good guy, he knows he made a mistake, and he’s a human being. It happened at an inopportune time but I do think they ought to have instant replay in the playoffs and World Series.”
Herzog and Denkinger made their peace over the years.
“We didn’t always see eye-to-eye. That’s pretty obvious. Enough has been printed about what happened,” Denkinger told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
“It didn’t deter from how I feel about Whitey. He deserves to be in the Hall. I have the utmost respect for him,” he said.
The long-ago play that rankled Herzog came leading off the bottom of the ninth with St. Louis leading the Royals 1-0. Pinch-hitter Jorge Orta was called safe at first, even though replays showed first baseman Jack Clark’s toss to pitcher Todd Worrell was in time. A missed pop-up helped Kansas City rally for two runs to win Game 6.
“How could he miss that call?” Herzog shouted that night, mixing in an expletive as he stormed down a runway tunnel. The next night, the Royals romped 11-0 in Game 7.
As for Harvey, Herzog joshed: “I don’t know why he should get in. Doug kicked me out of more games than any other umpire.”
Like Herzog, Harvey fell one vote shy in the last election. This time, they both easily drew enough support to reach Cooperstown.
“I don’t think I would’ve had my heart broken if I’d missed by another vote or two. But I’m damn happy it’s over,” Herzog said. “It was just in the last few years when I was only missing by a few votes that I thought, maybe I do deserve it.”
Among those who came close this year was former players’ union head Marvin Miller. He was on a separate slate for executives and officials, and fell two votes short.
“Very few individuals have had as significant or as positive an impact upon the history of baseball as Marvin,” union head Michael Weiner said in a statement. “The Hall remains incomplete without Marvin’s plaque.”
Herzog was a fixture in major league dugouts for two decades. He won the 1982 World Series and three NL pennants with the Cardinals and three division titles with Kansas City. He became the 19th manager to make the Hall.
“I think he was one of the guys who started managers looking at doing more creative things,” said Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith, one of Herzog’s star players. “You’d see him take a relief pitcher and put him in right field.”
Smith was a late addition to the 16-member panel that considered managers and umpires. Candidates needed 12 votes (75 percent) to make it, and Herzog got 14 in voting Sunday at the baseball winter meetings. Results were announced Monday, and the 78-year-old Herzog was told he was in.