Ernie Tyler, 86

Ernie Tyler, beloved Orioles clubhouse figure, dies at 86

Ernie Tyler supplies umpire Tim Tschida with a wet towel on a hot day. Tyler went almost 48 years without missing a home game.
Ernie Tyler supplies umpire Tim Tschida with a wet towel on a hot day. Tyler went almost 48 years without missing a home game. (1998 Photo By Rich Lipski)
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By David Ginsburg
Sunday, February 13, 2011

Ernie Tyler, 86, who served 51 years as an umpire attendant for the Baltimore Orioles, including almost 48 years without missing a game, died Feb. 10 of complications from a brain tumor. He lived in Forest Hill, Md.

Mr. Tyler worked 3,819 straight home games from 1960 to 2007, a streak that he voluntarily ended to attend the Hall of Fame induction of Orioles infielder Cal Ripken Jr.

Ripken earned the nickname "Iron Man" for playing in a major league record 2,632 consecutive games, all of them with the Orioles.

"Baltimore lost a very special man in Ernie Tyler," Ripken said in a statement. "His commitment and dedication to the Orioles and to the game was something my family and I have always admired. He was Baltimore's true Iron Man, and he will be missed."

Mr. Tyler's streak included 40 postseason games, nine exhibition games and the 1993 All-Star Game. He continued working through last season.

His job included assisting the umpires before, during and after Orioles games. He was also responsible for rubbing the game baseballs with mud so the surface would not be slick. He prepared about 350,000 baseballs during his career.

He became close to many Orioles players and umpires over the years.

"I'll never forget the night in the 1960s that I came up to bat with a swarm of bees around my head," former Oriole Boog Powell told the Baltimore Sun. "The bees were so bad that I couldn't hit. But there was Ernie, carrying the can of bug spray he kept next to his baseballs. He sprayed it all over me as everybody laughed.

" 'Leave it to Ernie,' they said. 'Don't worry about a thing.' "

Mr. Tyler's sons, Jim and Fred, are clubhouse managers at Baltimore's Camden Yards for the home and visiting teams.

Mr. Tyler was born April 30, 1924. He began his run with the Orioles as a part-time usher at Memorial Stadium in 1954 during the team's first season, became a full-time usher in 1958 and assumed the job as umpire attendant in 1960.

In addition to sons Fred Tyler of Arnold and Jim Tyler of Towson, Md., Mr. Tyler's survivors include his wife of 66 years, Juliane Frances Tyler of Forest Hill, Md.; three sons, Phillip Tyler and Michael Tyler, both of Forest Hill, and Ernest Tyler Jr. of Fork, Md.; six daughters, Therese McFaul, Regina Tyler and Michelle Tyler-Simms, all of Forest Hill, Mary Louise Edwards of Jarrettsville, Md., Juliane Haas of Cockeysville, Md., and Christine Tyler-Kregel of Bel Air, Md.; a brother; 27 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

- Associated Press

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