On Sunday in Cooperstown, umpire Doug Harvey will share the stage with Andre Dawson and Whitey Herzog, both of whom hold far greater name recognition. But know this: unlike anyone else at the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Doug Harvey's nickname is, "God."
It was a tongue-in-cheek nickname assigned to him by hitters on account of his strict enforcement of baseball's rulebook, but he may well go down as the only baseball personality ever to hold this nickname. Byname-centric curiosities aside, though, Doug Harvey served a remarkable 31-year career as one of the most accomplished umpires ever to stand behind the plate.
Throughout Harvey's 4,670 games, he was unbending and unforgiving, and in spite of it -- or, more likely, because of it -- he drew enormous respect from the other men on the field. He's been subject to quite a wait since his retirement in 1992, having been passed by in 2003 and 2007.
After learning that he would be entering the Hall, Harvey explained in an interview how he came to be a major league umpire.
So I was cleaning bars to earn my money, and there was a guy named Don Larsen, was throwing a perfect game on TV. And I was sitting there at the bar, not drinking, just sitting 'cause I'd finished cleaning it, and there's about twelve guys in the bar.
I said, "that's it!" And the guy next to me said, "what?" I said, "you guys are gonna see me someday, doing just what they're doing up there, except I'm gonna be the umpire!" Well, they laughed me out of the bar. And eleven years later they were watching me work my first World Series.
Harvey was one of the last umpires to never attend umpiring school. If your name is God, though, you probably have no use for it.