INDIANAPOLIS -- Doug Harvey studied the Hall of Fame logo on the cap handed him by Jane Forbes Clark and a proud smile a half-century in the making creased his face. Receiving the lid from the chairman of the Hall of Fame's board was akin to being handed the keys to baseball's Valhalla. "I'm so grateful," Harvey, the 79-year-old umpiring legend, said at Tuesday morning's media conference the day after his election to Cooperstown by the Hall of Fame's Veterans Committee. "Waiting eight years [for election, following some near-miss ballots] was well worth it. It's wonderful."
So much for the sentiment. It was time for Harvey and his co-inductee, former manager Whitey Herzog, to grab the shtick. The Hall of Fame apparently is welcoming its first comedy act. Harvey and Herzog might be the best baseball comedy duo since Abbott and Costello were asking, "Who's on first?" On Induction Day next July 25, they could turn Cooperstown into The Improv.
VETERANS COMMITTEE VOTING MANAGERS/UMPIRES BALLOT
|Davey Johnson||Fewer than 3|
|Tom Kelly||Fewer than 3|
|Billy Martin||Fewer than 3|
|Gene Mauch||Fewer than 3|
|Steve O'Neill||Fewer than 3|
As they donned their new Hall of Fame uniform tops at the start of Tuesday's media event, Herzog pointed at Harvey's liberal gut as if to suggest he might have trouble buttoning the jersey."He's still trying to start an argument," said Harvey, who during the two men's concurrent careers ejected Herzog from more games than any other umpire. Returning the jibe, Herzog nodded toward Harvey and said, "I hope he don't kick me out of Cooperstown." The inner little boy you need to play this game apparently never leaves you even on the door sill of immortality. Herzog and Harvey are wonderful white-haired testaments to that baseball charm. The White Rat and "God," as ballplayers had referred to the authoritative Harvey, strolling toward Cooperstown arm-in-arm. "We had some hard times together, but it was all a game," said Harvey, turning toward Herzog. "And it was a wonderful, wonderful trip for both of us."