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02/21/2010

Longtime umpire John Kibler dies at 81

February 21, 2010 | 11:09 am

Kibler Longtime high-profile umpire John Kibler, who died Thursday of a heart attack at 81, shared a story about the Dodgers' Tom Lasorda for a 1990 profile by The Times after Kibler announced his retirement.

Lasorda started arguing with umpire Gerry Davis about a close play at first. Kibler, the crew chief and the home plate umpire, joined the discussion. At some point. Kibler's shoulders hunched up.

"That's the giveaway," then-umpire Eric Gregg told the Times' Bob Nightengale. "That's when you know you finally riled him up."

Lasorda was ejected.

"He kept saying what a terrible call it was," Kibler said, "and how when we saw the films later, we'd see for ourselves how we blew it. I told him, 'I think we got it right Tommy.' "

When the game ended, Lasorda called the umpire's room.

"He saw the replay before we did," Kibler said. "He told us we were right and apologized. You know, it was nice of him to call and everything, but when you do all of that in front of 50,000 people, and then call and say, 'Sorry, you were right,' it doesn't quite have the same meaning."

Wrote Nightengale: "Kibler laughs, running his hands through his hair, wondering at recollections like this just how he was able to retain his sense of humor throughout the years."

Said Gregg, who died in 2006: "Everybody has bad moods, so I guess John has them too. But I've never seen him in one. I can honestly say that."

-- Keith Thursby

Photo: John Kibler in 1987. Credit: Associated Press

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