Eric Gregg, Former MLB Umpire, Dies after Stroke

Eric Gregg, a Major League Baseball umpire from 1975 to 1999, died last night after a stroke. He was 55.

As an Atlanta Braves fan, I’ll never forget Gregg:

Eric Gregg, Former MLB Umpire, Dies after Stroke Photo The 6-foot-3 Gregg was often criticized for calling strikes too wide. In Game 5 of the 1997 NL championship series against Atlanta, Florida’s Livan Hernandez struck out 15 batters and the Braves’ Greg Maddux fanned nine as the teams combined to set a championship series record with 25 in the Marlins’ 2-1 win. Eight players were called out and several more fell behind in the count as Gregg appeared to make the plate wider than its usual 17 inches.

“Eric will be ever known for one game, but I don’t think that’s fair,” Braves pitcher John Smoltz said.

No, surely it isn’t. I suspect people who knew him as a man will remember him more for things like this:

Larry Bowa, a coach for the Phillies in the 1990s, remembered a steamy day in Florida when Lenny Dykstra argued balls and strikes with Gregg, hoping an ejection would give him an extra day off. “Eric said, ‘Lenny, I know exactly what you want me to do. You want me to run you out of this game.’ And he says, ‘If I got to stay in this heat, you got to stay in this heat, so it doesn’t matter what you call me, how many times you call me, I’m not running you out of this game,'” Bowa said.

All indications are that Gregg was a really good guy whose major fault was an inability to control his weight. Dying at 55 is far too high a price to pay for that sin.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.