Hall of Fame umpire Doug Harvey passed away due to natural causes on Saturday. He was 87.
Harvey was the ninth umpire elected to the Hall of Fame and one of the final Major League umpires who never attended an umpiring school. Over his 31 years in baseball, spent entirely in the National League, Harvey worked 4,673 games, which is the fifth most all-time and was the third most for any umpire at the time of his retirement in 1992.
"Hall of Famer Doug Harvey was one of the most accomplished umpires of all-time," Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement on Sunday. "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.
"On behalf of Major League Baseball, I send my deepest condolences to Doug's family, his friends and the umpiring community."
Inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 2010, Harvey umpired five World Series, nine NL Championship Series and six All-Star Games. He served as a crew chief for 18 years.
• Umpires in Hall of Fame
"Doug Harvey demonstrated exceptional character during a distinguished umpiring career, and was universally respected in baseball," Jane Forbes Clark, chairman of the Hall of Fame, said in a statement on Sunday. "All of us at the Hall of Fame thought highly of him, and we are deeply saddened by this loss. We send our sympathy and love to his wife, Joy, and their family."
Harvey began umpiring for a living after his father's suggestion and worked games in the Class C Sunset League at 19. Eventually he would umpire in San Diego in a grueling five-month, 155-game schedule before making it to the professional ranks.
"I remember that while watching Don Larsen throw his perfect game on TV, I told the guys with me that I was going to go into professional umpiring, and someday they would be watching me on TV," Harvey said in his Hall of Fame speech. "They laughed me out of the room. Eleven years later, they were watching me on TV, working my World Series plate job."
Harvey was known for his silver hair that grayed in his 30s, and his style was hard to miss. His methodical-yet-authoritative signals and presence earned him the nickname "God" from players.
"You always respected him because he came out to his job and [did it] with a lot of class," Joe Torre, a Hall of Fame manager who became the first player Harvey ejected, said after Harvey retired in 1992. "He was very consistent, and that's the highest compliment you can pay anybody."
Harvey was named the second-greatest umpire in history by the Society for American Baseball Research in 1999, and Referee magazine named him among the 52 most influential figures in the history of sports officiating in 2007.
"Doug Harvey set the bar for future umpires," Jeff Idelson, Hall of Fame president, said in a statement on Sunday. "He was revered for his calm demeanor, ability to control the game, knowledge of the strike zone and comprehension of the rules, leading many players to refer to him as 'god.' He umpired with integrity, heart and common sense for 31 seasons, including 18 as a crew chief, resulting in his richly deserved 2010 election into the Hall of Fame."
A public memorial is being planned for the near future in San Diego.