Mar 12, 2012

centerfieldmaz Remembers Harry Wendelstedt & Don Mincher On Their Passing

Harry Hunter Wendelstedt Jr. was born July 27th 1938 in Baltimore Maryland. He began umpiring in the major leagues in 1966 for the National League. Wendelstat was famous for having a wide strike zone, he would shout & use the now famous so called "chain saw move" on a called third strike. If it was a swinging strike he would raise his right arm straight up in the air signaling the out.
In 1968 he made a controversial call in favor of Dodger pitcher Don Drysdale which helped him continue his scoreless innings streak to his record 58 2/3 innings. San Francisco Giants batter Dick Dietz was hit in the elbow with a pitch & if he had gotten to first base a run would have scored. But Wendelstedt ruled Dietz made no attempt to get out of the way, Drysdale's streak continued on.

On April 22, 1970 Wendelstedt was behind the plate at Shea Stadium when Tom Seaver struck out 19 San Diego Padres tying a major league single game strike out record. In that game Seaver struck out the last ten batters he face setting another record.

Wendelstedt worked his first World Series in 1973, between the New York Mets & the Oakland A's. He was the home plate umpire in Game #6 at the Oakland Coliseum in a game where Catfish Hunter beat Tom Seaver 3-1 to even the series at three games each.

The next time the Mets were in the World Series, 1986 Wendelstedt was once again on the umpiring staff. He worked the plate in Game #6 at Fenway Park in the Mets 7-1 victory over the Red Sox. In that game Lenny Dykstra led off the game with a HR, Gary Carter drove in three runs & the Mets first designated hitter Danny Heep drove in two runs. In that game Bob Ojeda beat Oil Can Boyd.

Two years later Wendelstedt was on the umpiring staff of the NLCS in which the Dodgers beat the Mets in seven games. He was behind the plate in Game #1 where Dwight Gooden went up against Orel Hershiser, neither pitcher fgured in the decision as the Mets won it in the 9th inning on Daryl Strawberry & Gary Carters doubles.

Overall he worked in seven NLCS series & five World Series serving as crew chief in 1980 & 1995. He also worked a record tying five no hitters & four All Star games.

In 1977 he took over the Al Somers Umpire School & renamed it the Harry Wendelstedt Umpiring School serving as the chief instructor there for 17 years. His son Harry Hunter Wendlestat goes by the name Hunter & wears the uniform #21 just like his dad in his honor. The two became the first father & son umpire team to work a game together in 1988. Wendelstedt Sr. was diagnosed with a brain tumor ten years ago & passed away this week at Ormond Beach Florida at the age of 73.


Donald Ray Mincher was born on June 24th 1938 in Huntsville, Alabama. The six foot three first baseman was signed by the Chicago White Sox in 1956. In 1960 he was traded along with Earl Battey to the Washington Senators for Roy Sievers. After one season the franchise moved to Minnesota & became the Twins. He played six seasons with the Twins having his best seasons in the mid sixties. In 1965 Mincher hit 22 HRs with 17 doubles 65 RBIs batting .251 with a .344 on base % helping the Twins get to the World Series .

That year he led the AL in intentional walks (15) and was one of the hitting stars of a Twins team that featured six time HR champion Harmon Killebrew, three time batting champ Tony Oliva, & that years MVP Zolio Versalles. In the first game of the 1965 World Series Mincher hit a HR off Don Drysdale in the Twins 8-2 win. The Dodgers would win the Series in seven games coming from behind down two games to none.

In 1966 he was part of a record setting inning in which five Twins players hit HRs, the game was on June 9th against the Kansas City A's. Mincher would move on to play for the California Angels (1967-1968) then the Seattle Pilots in their only season of existence 1969.

That year he was the teams power hitter with 25 HRs & 78 RBIs. As the franchise moved to Milwaukee Mincher was sent to the Oakland A's where he played in 1970-1971 & then returned to close out his career there at the end of the 1972 season. In between his stints with the A's he played in Washington & then in Texas when the team moved there in 1972. Mincher appeared in three games of the 1972 World Series driving in a run in his only at bat. He went out a winner as his A's beat the Cincinnati Reds in seven games.

In his 13 year career Mincher hit .249 with 1003 hits 200 HRs 176 doubles 643 RBIs & a .348 on base %. He played in two All Star games (1967 & 1969) & was among the leagues top four first baseman in fielding four times. After his playing days he was general manager of the Huntsville Stars a AA affiliate of the A's & Milwaukee Brewers. He also served as President of the minor leagues Southern League from 2000-2010. He passed away on March 4, 2012 after a long illness.

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