Monday, September 13, 2010
Heart, Guts and Brains
MLB umpire Doug Harvey is a Hall-of-Famer.
In the mid-1950s as a student at San Diego State, Doug Harvey had no illusion of playing in the big leagues.
“I was hoping to get a coach’s degree,” the retired MLB umpire recalled. He had received a partial scholarship to play baseball for the Aztecs, but he also played offense and defense for the San Diego State football team.
As he recalls, it was during a gridiron game against Pepperdine that his days as an Aztec athlete and a San Diego State student came to an end along with his plans to become a coach.
“They broke my left leg and split the bone eight inches,” Harvey explains. “I was in a cast for something like 22 weeks, so I had to quit school. The (baseball) coach took away my partial scholarship and I couldn’t afford it.”
But Harvey had refereed and umpired various sports since his teenage years. Even if he couldn’t coach, he figured, he could still be an umpire.
He was right. Harvey went on to umpire five World Series during his 30-year National League career. Respected for his encyclopedic knowledge of baseball rules, he gained a reputation as one of the best umpires in the game.
That’s why he was in Cooperstown July 25 for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, joining current SDSU baseball coach Tony Gwynn as the only Aztecs ever to receive the honor. Harvey is a loyal supporter of Gwynn and Aztec baseball, donating to the program regularly.
“Tony was a real upright gentleman and he played the game the way it was supposed to have been played. You can stand and gripe all day, but it isn’t going to get the job done. Tony got the job done.”
The celebrated umpire also has strong words for those who aspire to be the guy everyone loves to hate.
“Do not ever be faint of heart. You must have enough guts to call it what it is. There was none of this, ‘Well, you let the last play of the game go by because you don’t want to change the right way for the game to come out.’ Yes, I would change the way the game came out, but it takes guts to do it and that’s what umpiring is about – heart, guts and brains.”
To read the full profile, read the SDSU Alumni Association’s July e-newsletter