Don Denkinger

From BR Bullpen

Donald Anton Denkinger

Biographical Information[edit]

Don Denkinger was an umpire in the Alabama-Florida League (1960), Northwest League (1961-1962), Texas League (1963-1965), and International League (1966-1968). He was then an American League umpire from 1969 to 1998.

He was the crew chief for the 1985 World Series and made an infamous call in the 9th inning of Game 6, calling Jorge Orta of the Kansas City Royals safe at first base when replays showed that the toss from 1B Jack Clark to P Todd Worrell had beaten him to the bag. Down to their last inning and trailing three games to two and 1-0 on the road, the Royals got an unexpected reprieve and managed to score twice to win that game, and then defeat the St. Louis Cardinals, 11-0, in Game 7 to claim the only World Series title in team history. In Game 7, Cardinals pitcher Joaquin Andujar and manager Whitey Herzog tried to pick a fight over the previous night's call with Denkinger, who was now working home plate, and both were ejected from the game. Cardinals fans rue Denkinger's name to this day, arguing that he cost them the World Series title.

A more positive memory was being the home plate umpire for Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, in which Jack Morris pitched a ten-inning 1-0 shutout to give the Minnesota Twins the title over the Atlanta Braves. That game is considered one of the greatest in major league history. In all, he was an umpire in four World Series (the others being in 1974 and 1980). He also officiated three times at the All-Star Game, in 1971, 1976 and 1987). He was present for two perfect games: that of Len Barker in 1981 and that of Kenny Rogers in 1994, both times as a base umpire. Other highlights include being the home plate umpire for the 1978 one-game playoff between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park and for Nolan Ryan's sixth no-hitter in 1990.

He was a wrestler in college and served in the United States army before starting his umpiring career.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Cydney Henderson (USA Today): "Longtime MLB umpire Don Denkinger dies at 86", Yahoo! News, May 12, 2023. [1]

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