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Longtime NL umpire John Kibler dies at 81

PALO ALTO, Calif. (AP) — Longtime umpire John Kibler, seen emphatically pointing fair on the ground ball Bill Buckner missed in the 1986 World Series, has died. He was 81.

Kibler died of a heart attack Thursday, his family said.

Kibler worked his first big league game in 1963 and was a full-time member of the National League staff from 1965-89. He called four World Series, four NL championship series, a first-round playoff in 1981 and four All-Star games.

The veteran crew chief is prominent on one of the most replayed World Series highlights.

Kibler was the first base ump in Game 6 in 1986 when Mookie Wilson's two-out grounder rolled through Buckner's legs in the 10th inning. Kibler can be seen signaling that it's a fair ball as he scampers out of the way, and Buckner's error gave the New York Mets a 6-5 win over Boston. Kibler worked plate for Game 7 when the Mets beat the Red Sox for the championship.

Kibler served in the Navy during the Korean War and left the New York state police to go to umpiring school. He started out as a minor league umpire in the late 1950s and became a major league crew chief in 1977.

He was married for 51 years. Kibler and his wife, Dorothy, had two sons.

The family asked that any donations be made to the Baseball Assistance Team, which helps those in the baseball community in need.