When ‘God’ grew a mustache

Chris pointed out in the comments section for the Dwight Gooden video yesterday that the umpire’s third-strike call in the first clip is amazing. And it is. It is a knockout blow.

Gooden only faced the Dodgers at Shea once that season and we have baseball-reference, so we can determine the home-plate umpire responsible for that punchout is Hall of Famer Doug Harvey.

Harvey’s Wikipedia page is, for a variety of reasons, a pretty interesting read. For one thing, his nickname was “God.” For another, the Wikipedia notes:

In 1971 he grew a handlebar mustache,[8] at a time when no major league field personnel had worn facial hair since the 1940s; he kept it trimmed to the edges of his mouth, and he wore it for one season.

The citation for that fact — [8] — points to a December 1971 article in the Sporting News by Jerome Holtzman bluntly titled “Ump Harvey Grows Handlebar Mustache.” I couldn’t find it online, but Diane Firstman of Value Over Replacement Grit was able to hook it up. The part about the mustache is only one paragraph but it’s pretty great:

Doug Harvey of the National League, who is probably the most handsome of the major league umpires, looks positively smashing these days. He has grown one of those old-fashioned handlebar mustaches. Harvey likes it so much he says he might even take it to spring training with him. In the meantime, he’s available, for a fee, to appear and even sing with barbershop quartets.

So there’s that. And bear in mind that Rollie Fingers didn’t grow start growing his handlebar mustache until Spring Training of 1972, at least six months after Doug Harvey. “God” was a real pioneer.

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