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Friday, March 09, 2012

Harry Wendelstedt, RIP

Harry Wendelstedt, father of current umpire Hunter, passed away today at 73; in Daytona Beach, Florida; of a brain tumor. He was perhaps most famous as the plate umpire on May 31, 1968, when Don Drysdale was pitching. With his scoreless streak on the line, Drysdale loaded the bases, and hit Dick Dietz, but Wendelstedt declared that Dietz had not attempted to move out of the way of the pitch, preserving the shutout.
Drysdale threw a 2-2 pitch that struck Dick Dietz on the elbow, and the shutout streak seemed to be over. But Wendelstedt, the plate umpire, immediately ruled that Dietz didn't try to get out of the way. Wendelstedt called the pitch a ball and told Dietz to get back in the batter's box.

"I'd never seen that call before in the big leagues," Lasorda recalled. "Never had seen anyone make it."

After a heated argument, the game resumed. On a full-count pitch, Dietz flied out and Drysdale wound up pitching a shutout. Orel Hershiser set the shutout record of 59 innings in 1988, pitching under Lasorda.

"Harry had a wide strike zone, he liked to see hitters swing the bat," Lasorda said, laughing. "Dick Dietz. Harry, he got him out. And the streak continued."

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