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Former All-Star catcher Dick Dietz dies

Former All-Star catcher Dick Dietz dies

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CLAYTON, Ga. -- Former All-Star catcher Dick Dietz, involved with Don Drysdale in one of baseball's most disputed plays in the 1960s, has died. He was 63.

Dietz died Tuesday from a heart attack, the Hunter Funeral Home said. He will be buried in Greenville, S.C.

Dietz hit .261 with 66 home runs and 301 RBIs from 1966-73, mostly with the San Francisco Giants. He finished his career with Los Angeles and Atlanta.

His best season was 1970, when he hit .300 with 36 doubles, 22 home runs and 107 RBIs, along with 109 walks. He was an All-Star that season, and his leadoff homer in the ninth inning against Catfish Hunter started a three-run rally that tied it -- the NL won in the 12th when Pete Rose ran over catcher Ray Fosse to score the winning run.

Dietz probably was better known, however, for what happened at Dodger Stadium on May 31, 1968.

Drysdale was in the midst of setting a Major League record of 58 2/3 scoreless innings and bidding for his fifth straight shutout when the Giants loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth inning.

Dietz came up, and was hit in the elbow by a 2-2 pitch from the future Los Angeles Hall of Famer. But before Dietz could take his base and force home a run that would break Drysdale's streak, plate umpire Harry Wendelstedt ruled that Dietz did not try to get out of the way of the ball.

"He stood there like a post," former Giants teammate Ron Hunt recalled Wednesday. "It was a high slider, and he didn't make an attempt."

The Giants loudly argued the call, but Dietz returned to the plate with a full count and hit a shallow fly ball that was not deep enough to score a run. Drysdale retired the next two batters to finish off the shutout and extend his string to 45 scoreless innings.

Hunt, who once held the hit-by-pitch record, remembered that Wendelstedt made his call right away. That didn't stop the Giants from complaining.

"We'd seen a lot of those things where it was or wasn't called, when it wasn't such a big deal," Hunt said.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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