KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An umpire familiar to fans of the Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals from the 1985 World Series died Friday.
Don Denkinger, whose Game 6 call in the 1985 World Series involving Royals' Jorge Orta is remembered by fans on both sides of the state, died Friday at age 86.
Today MLB remembers longtime American League Umpire Don Denkinger, who passed away at 86. The genial Denkinger was on the field from 1969-1998 and worked four World Series, the last of which included plate duties for the epic Morris-Smoltz Game 7 in 1991. Rest in Peace, Don. pic.twitter.com/ZHWqGA2RPB— MLB Communications (@MLB_PR) May 12, 2023
Denkinger umpired games in Major League Baseball for 29 years, primarily in the American League. During Denkinger's career, he umpired four World Series, three All-Star Games and six American League Championship Series.
He would also umpire for two perfect games: working as a second-base umpire for Cleveland Indians pitcher Len Barker's perfect game in 1981 and as the first-base umpire for Texas Rangers pitcher Kenny Roger' perfect game in 1994.
Denkinger was also the home-plate umpire for Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan's sixth no-hitter in 1990 when Ryan was with the Rangers.
Denkinger's most memorable World Series assignment was the 1985 World Series, where he infamously ruled Royals player Jorge Orta safe. It was Game 6 between the Royals and cross-state rival, the St. Louis Cardinals.
What would transpire after that was a meltdown by the Cardinals. From first baseman Jack Clark dropped a routine pop up; Darrell Porter gave up a passed ball; Royals pinch hitter Dane Iorg hit a bloop single to drive in two runners to win Game 6 and pave the way for the Royals Game 7 blowout against the Cardinals to win their first World Series in franchise history.
Denkinger's final World Series was the 1991 World Series, where he was the home-plate umpire for the epic pitching duel between Hall of Fame pitchers Jack Morris and John Smoltz in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. The Minnesota Twins won the game in the 10th inning.
Denkinger would continue as an MLB umpire until June 1998.