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Remembering Don Denkinger

May 16, 2023

Maybe both Don Denkinger, an excellent umpire, best remembered for a big play in game 6 of the ’85 World Series, who died at age 86 days back and I both had something to do with that series result.

I will go back to it just as I wish I could be running on the field to gather John Tudor and Tito Landrum for post-game, ABC Network interviews with the great clutch player, Reggie Jackson.

In 1974, on a key play at home plate the same Reggie Jackson in a same calendar year, slid home and was correctly and efficiently called safe by home plate umpire Denkinger.

NBC analyst, a rare one over the years, who gives us good, rather than bad, deciphered the replay and praised Jackson’s slide and Denkinger’s call.

He worked so many games in those days before replay could change calls and was one of the best at doing so.

Tudor, at one point, cited my quick rush to him, after his brilliant shutout in game 4 that gave the Cards a (3-1) lead in the I-80 World Series vs the Kansas City Royals.

Subsequently he told me not to feel bad and it was just one of many things that happened to help such Royals as their great player, George Brett, (he turned 70 yesterday), win his lone title.

One such thing was Denkinger, clearly incorrectly calling Jorge Orta safe to start the 2 run K,C, bottom 9, that transformed a 1 run deficit facing elimination, to a 7th game forcing win. Much more negative happened some St. LOuis’ fault and let’s hail Dane Iorg, who helped the Cards end a 15 year title drought in ’82, delivering a 1 out, 2 run hit that forced #7.

In September 1992, Beano Cook and I after a day of ripping the hypocrisy of Notre Dame on NBC, walked into a NYC restaurant and Beano recognized Denkinger. Now I recall his home state Iowa team was facing eventual title runner up and previous 4 titles in 9 seasons, Miami that Saturday night.

Don was truly nice to me and when I answered the phone 2 days later, early that Monday, it truly moved me that Mr. Denkinger, unlike so many over the years, proved he was raised right, calling as he said he would.

That “call” and your overall class means you will get the right call to the right place. Go easy, Mr. Denkinger.

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