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Friday, July 26, 2002
Patriarch of three-generation family of umps dies
SAN DIEGO -- Ed Runge, the patriarch of the only three-generation family of major league baseball umpires, has died. He was 84.
Runge, an American League umpire from 1954 through 1970, died Thursday, according to the commissioner's office.
His son, Paul, was a National League umpire from 1974-97 and then became the NL's executive director of umpires in 1998 and 1999. Paul's son, Brian, joined the NL staff in 1999 and currently is part of the major league staff.
"It's the only occupation where a man has to be perfect his first day on the job and then improve over the years,'' Ed Runge said in 1973.
Born in New York on May 12, 1918, Runge became a professional umpire in 1947 in the Big State League and was promoted to the Pacific Coast League in 1949.
He went on to work the World Series in 1956, 1961 and 1967; the All-Star Game in 1955, 1959 and 1967, and the first AL championship series in 1969. He threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 2 of the 1984 World Series, a game in which Paul worked third base.
"When I came to bat, Ed said to me, 'I don't know if you know my strike zone; it's a wide plate,''' former catcher and current broadcast Tim McCarver once said. "I stored away the knowledge not only for batting purposes, but to guide my own pitchers.''
Runge was the right-field umpire at Yankee Stadium for Don Larsen's perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers on Oct. 8, 1956.
With two outs in the fourth inning, Duke Snider hit a 2-0 fastball over the fence in right field, and Runge called the ball foul -- it missed being a home run by about a foot. Larsen came back to throw a called third strike past Snider.
Runge also was the recipient of what is regarded to be one of the better quips by players to an ump.
"Ed, you're the second-best umpire in the league,'' Boston's Carl Yastrzemski was reported to have once said. "The other 23 are tied for first.''
A complete list of survivors was not immediately available.
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