Don Denkinger retired as a major league umpire after the 1998 season. Since then, you hear about him for from him whenever there is a huge blown call someplace. He’s the go-to reference for that, naturally, given his blown call in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series.
Since the beneficiary of that call, the Kansas City Royals, are once again in the Fall Classic, you’re hearing about him and from him again. He’s got a pretty level head about it:
“Nobody wants to have the call that I did in the World Series. But I did. And now it’s part of history . . . I’m not tired of talking about it. I mean, it happened,” he said. “I just know that if the same thing happened now, they’d get it right on replay and it’d be over with.”
For most people, Denkinger’s career begins and ends with that call in October 1985. Of course, why we don’t hear about him beyond that is because the rest of his career as an ump was quite fine, thank you, and you rarely if ever hear the names of good umps. He worked the plate in the 1987 All-Star Game. He was the crew chief for the 1988 ALCS, 1991 World Series, and 1992 ALCS. But it’s always that he’ll be remembered for, and someone will always ask him about it.
In this way, he’s much like an ump I wrote about last year. And like that ump, Denkinger’s greatest strength seems to be the confidence to be honest and forthright when he makes a mistake and to not let it prevent him from getting on with the job and on with life.