Hall of Fame umpire Doug Harvey dies at 87

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PITTSBURGH - JULY 5: Umpire Doug Harvey looks on during the Pittsburgh Pirates game against the Cincinnati Reds at Three Rivers Stadium on July 5, 1992 in Pittsburgh, Pennsyvlania.
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Doug Harvey, the respected Hall of Fame umpire who earned the nicknamed "God" over the course of his long career, died Saturday at age 87.

Harvey's wife, Joy, confirmed the news to Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com on Sunday.

"Doug Harvey demonstrated exceptional character during a distinguished umpiring career, and was universally respected in baseball," Hall of Fame chairman Jane Forbes Clark said in a statement on Sunday. "All of us at the Hall of Fame thought highly of him, and we are deeply saddened by this loss. We send our sympathy and love to his wife, Joy, and their family."

"Doug Harvey was the model that every umpire should strive to be," Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan added, per the Hall.

Harvey was an umpire in the National League for 31 seasons from 1962-92 and served as a crew chief for 18 of those seasons - his 4,673 regular-season games umpired still rank fifth all-time. He worked nine National League Championship Series, five World Series, and six All-Star Games, and remains the last umpire to have called consecutive midsummer classics in 1963 and '64.

Memorable baseball moments with Harvey on the umpiring crew include his working home plate for Kirk Gibson's famous pinch-hit homer in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. He was also the second-base umpire for Roberto Clemente's 3,000th - and, as it turned out, his last - regular-season hit in 1972.

Though players and managers would naturally disagree with his calls, Harvey was so respected throughout the game that players twice voted him as the game's best umpire, first in 1974 and again in 1990, according to a 2010 article by Richard Sandomir of the New York Times. In 1999, the Society for American Baseball Research named him the second-greatest umpire in baseball history.

"He's always had that nickname, 'God,' because he's never missed a pitch," Hall of Fame manager Joe Torre - who had the honor of being Harvey's first and last ejection, some 31 years apart - told The Associated Press in 2010.

Harvey became only the ninth umpire (to that point in time) to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2010. Due to his throat cancer, Harvey prerecorded his moving induction speech.