Bodley: Herzog, Harvey a terrific tandem

Bodley: Herzog, Harvey a terrific tandem

INDIANAPOLIS -- Whitey Herzog and Doug Harvey will be inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame on July 25, which is like inviting the Hatfields and McCoys to the same ceremony.

This one should be a dandy -- uniting these icons at the Cooperstown, N.Y., shrine. And on the same day!

Herzog, the enormously successful and sometimes volatile former manager, and Harvey, the retired umpire who officiated a baseball game with an iron fist and an unfathomable integrity, were elected on Monday.

The announcement was made by the Hall of Fame's Veterans Committee at the Winter Meetings.

But to say that the newest Hall of Famers had a long-simmering feud is untrue. Actually, they were -- and are --friends, and they couldn't be more deserving of baseball's highest honor.

Their history together is well documented. When, during a news conference in St. Louis after the announcement Herzog mentioned "my good friend, Doug Harvey," there were snickers from some of the reporters.

I cannot help but look back to when the White Rat was managing the Cardinals and Harvey was umpiring. They both brought a burning intensity to their work, and sometimes Herzog's flowed over.

"This is strange," Whitey said from St. Louis. "I don't know why he should get in. Doug kicked me out of more games than any other umpire."

When it comes to temper-driven premature departures from baseball games, Herzog ranks among my top three. I put him up there with Bobby Cox and Lou Piniella. And oh, yes, Earl Weaver. That makes four.

Harvey gained a level of respect from players, fans and management that few umpires receive. He had a tremendous impact on the profession.

When the announcement was made, my first memory was one from years ago, probably in the mid-1980s, in Whitey's office at the old Busch Stadium.

It was midafternoon, before a night game, and a handful of reporters were standing around his desk, listening to him spin baseball yarns and talk about the upcoming game and how good the fishing was across the Mississippi in Illinois.

I was a latecomer, and when he spotted me, his tone changed.

"I'm not going to talk to you," he almost shouted, throwing in a few expletives. "You wrote that damn story, and I'm not going to talk to you. You can't be trusted."

I was in shock.

Meekly, I asked, "What story are you talking about?"

"The one you wrote last year -- or maybe it was the year before."

"What story?"

"I can't remember, but it still ticks me off," he said, turning his back to me.

By now the other reporters had tiptoed out of the office, leaving the cubicle to Whitey and me. I tried to find out what he was talking about but couldn't. In fact, I never did, and the next time I saw Herzog, weeks later, it was as though nothing had happened.

The almost unbelievable footnote to this episode is that we've always had a tremendous relationship over the years, especially when he was an active manager with Kansas City and St. Louis. We'd often talk about fishing, golf and subjects other than baseball.

It was always a pleasure when I was in St. Louis to arrive at the ballpark early and spend time with Herzog. He was from the old school, but any time I was fortunate enough to visit with him, I learned something new about the sport I love.

He was one of the best: He won 1,281 games during 18 years, excelled during his years as a general manager and took six of his teams to the postseason. He beat Milwaukee to win the 1982 World Series.

The irony that Herzog will be inducted along with an umpire goes even deeper.

Remember Game 6 of the 1985 Cardinals-Royals World Series in Kansas City?

A blown call by Don Denkinger to start the bottom of the ninth inning probably kept the Cardinals from winning that game and the Series.

St. Louis was leading, 1-0, when the Royals' Jorge Orta led off with a ground ball to Cardinals first baseman Jack Clark, who flipped the ball to pitcher Todd Worrell covering first. Denkinger called Orta safe, but television replays showed that Worrell had beaten Orta to the base. Kansas City went on to score two runs with two out; won the game, 2-1; and crushed St. Louis and John Tudor, 11-0, in Game 7.

"No, I'm not bitter at Denkinger," said Herzog. "He's a good guy. He knows he made a mistake, and he's a human being. It happened at an inopportune time."

The silver-haired Harvey, who worked 4,670 games during a 31-year career in the National League, was called "God" by the players because of the quality of his work.

When I was covering baseball on a daily basis, it wasn't uncommon for players to check, after they arrived at the ballpark, to see which umpires would be working their game. They seemed comfortable when Harvey was there.

Doug's methodical style was unique. His mantra was to always get the call right, and he went to great lengths to do that. Often he would hesitate for a quick moment before making a deliberate call, convinced it was going to be the right one.

Or, as Hall of Famer Joe Morgan puts it: "Doug Harvey was the model that every umpire should strive to be. He was tolerant to a point, yet the players always knew he was in control."

Said Harvey: "Ten years into my career, my late father said to me that one day I would realize what I have achieved. When I woke up this morning and I received the call from Cooperstown, I realized for the first time exactly what that means. My mother tried to stay alive for this day. Unfortunately, she was unable to share in this great honor with my wife, Joy, and me."

In 1992, when Harvey retired, I wrote: "This much is indisputable: Doug Harvey is one of the best umpires the game has seen."

That has not changed.

When Herzog put away his uniform, I wrote, "One of the best mangers the game is calling it quits. He will be sorely missed."

That hasn't changed either, and it's only fitting that Whitey Herzog and Doug Harvey will be accepting baseball's highest honor together.

And I wouldn't be a bit surprised if they have a long embrace to celebrate the moment.

Hal Bodley is the senior correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.