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Ed Runge, 84; Patriarch of Three-Generation Family of Major League Umpires

July 27, 2002|From Associated Press

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 in San Diego, according to the commissioner's office. The cause of death was not announced.

His son Paul was a National League umpire from 1974-97 and then became the league's executive director of umpires in 1998 and 1999.

Paul Runge's son Brian joined the National League staff in 1999 and now 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 City, 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 games in 1955, 1959 and 1967, and the first American League championship series in 1969.

He threw the ceremonial first pitch before Game 2 of the 1984 World Series, a game in which Paul Runge 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,' " Tim McCarver, a broadcaster and former catcher, 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.

A complete list of Runge's survivors was not immediately available.

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