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Dietz known for controversial HBP call vs. Drysdale

CLAYTON, Ga. -- Former All-Star catcher Dick Dietz, involved
with Don Drysdale in one of baseball's most disputed plays in the
1960s, has died. He was 63.

Dietz died Tuesday from a heart attack, the Hunter Funeral Home
said. He will be buried in Greenville, S.C.

Dietz hit .261 with 66 home runs and 301 RBI from 1966-73,
mostly with the San Francisco Giants. He finished his career with
Los Angeles and Atlanta.

His best season was 1970, when he hit .300 with 36 doubles, 22
home runs and 107 RBI, along with 109 walks. He was an All-Star
that season, and his leadoff homer in the ninth inning against
Catfish Hunter started a three-run rally that tied it -- the NL won
in the 12th when Pete Rose ran over catcher Ray Fosse to score the
winning run.

Dietz probably was better known, however, for what happened at
Dodger Stadium on May 31, 1968.

Drysdale was in the midst of setting a major league record of 58
2/3 scoreless innings and bidding for his fifth straight shutout
when the Giants loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth inning.

Dietz came up, and was hit in the elbow by a 2-2 pitch from the
future Los Angeles Hall of Famer. But before Dietz could take his
base and force home a run that would break Drysdale's streak, plate
umpire Harry Wendelstedt ruled that Dietz did not try to get out of
the way of the ball.

"He stood there like a post," former Giants teammate Ron Hunt
recalled Wednesday. "It was a high slider, and he didn't make an
attempt."

The Giants loudly argued the call, but Dietz returned to the
plate with a full count and hit a shallow fly ball that was not
deep enough to score a run. Drysdale retired the next two batters
to finish off the shutout and extend his string to 45 scoreless
innings.

Hunt, who once held the hit-by-pitch record, remembered that
Wendelstedt made his call right away. That didn't stop the Giants
from complaining.

"We'd seen a lot of those things where it was or wasn't called,
when it wasn't such a big deal," Hunt said.