On This Date in Sports August 10, 1998
In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com
It is a special day for longtime National League Umpire Harry Wendelstedt in his final season as he works behind home plate in a game between the San Diego Padres and Atlanta Braves at Qualcomm Stadium. The second base umpire for the game is his son Hunter Wendelstedt, a minor league umpire, serving as vacation relief. It is the first time in baseball history that father and son worked as umpires together.
Harry Hunter Wendelstedt Jr. was born on July 27, 1938; he became an umpire for the National League in 1966. In 1968, he became famous when made a controversial call against Dick Dietz of the San Francisco Giants, ruling he did not make attempt to get out of the way when he was hit by a pitch thrown by Don Drysdale. The call helped the Los Angeles Dodgers hurler continue his record 58 scoreless inning streak. Harry Wendelstedt worked five World Series; 1973, 1980, 1986, 1991 and 1995. He also worked in the NLCS seven times, 1970, 1972, 1977, 1981, 1982, 1988 and 1990. As well as four All-Star Games in 1968, 1976, 1983 and 1992.
Harry Wendelstedt was also known for his umpiring school located in Ormond Beach, Florida. The school was founded and run by Bill McGowan in 1938. After McGowan passed away, it was run by Al Somers who mentored Wendelstedt, who took over the school in 1977. The school has trained more umpires that have worked in the majors than any of the other umpiring schools combined. Among the umpires trained were Harry Hunter Wendelstedt III who was born June 22, 1971, who followed in his father’s footsteps.
Assigned mostly to the Pacific Coast League in 1998, Hunter Wendelstedt was one of several vacation relief umpires that would be called up during the season. In a Tuesday Night Game in San Diego, he got his chance to work on his father’s crew as the Padres beat the Braves 3-1 in what would be a preview of that October’s NLCS. It was the first time in the history of Major League Baseball that father and son were on the same umpiring crew. The historic familial moment came not a moment too soon, as the Harry Wendelstedt Sr., the patriarch of the Wendelstedt family died a few days later after seeing his son and grandson make history.
The 1998 season, would be the final for Harry Wendelstedt who retired after 33 years to run his school full time, while Hunter Wendelstedt as served as an umpire in MLB ever since, as umpires have been under control of MLB since 2000 after being under control of the leagues. In his 20 years in blue, Hunter Wendelstedt has worked the 2011 All-Star Game, the 2014 World Series and three American League Championship Series in 2006, 2015 and 2017.
Hunter Wendelstedt has taken over his father’s famous umpiring school, running it since he passed away in 2012.