Sadly, the rumor is true.
Ernie Tyler, the longtime and beloved umpires attendant at Camden Yards, passed away last night at age 86. An Orioles official confirmed the news.
Tyler had undergone surgery Oct. 6 at University of Maryland Medical Center to remove a benign brain tumor after experiencing dizziness four days earlier at Camden Yards. He was transferred to a rehabilitation facility in early December.
Tyler, a member of the Orioles Hall of Fame, worked 3,819 consecutive home games at Memorial Stadium and Camden Yards. Ironically, Cal Ripken Jr. ended the streak when he invited Tyler to attend his Hall of Fame induction in Cooperstown, N.Y., in 2007. Tyler was greatly moved by the gesture.
It's not often that an umpires attendant achieves legendary status. Tyler was one of them. He will be greatly missed.
You would be severely challenged to find a nicer man than Ernie. He was one of the really good ones.
Tyler is survived by his wife, Juliane, and their 11 children - among them Jimmy and Fred, who work the Orioles' home and visiting clubhouses, respectively.
Tyler's death comes exactly one year after longtime traveling secretary Phil Itzoe passed away following an extended illness.
The Orioles just issued the following release:
The Orioles mourn the death of longtime umpires attendant Ernie Tyler. Ernie passed away last night, February 10, at the age of 86. Born April 30, 1924, Tyler worked 51 seasons for the club, including a streak of 3,819 consecutive home games as umpires attendant at Memorial Stadium and Oriole Park from Opening Day 1960 through July 27, 2007.
A graduate of Baltimore's Mt. St. Joseph High School, where he played in the same football backfield with former Orioles and Mets General Manager Frank Cashen, Ernie spent his career with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. He began as a part-time usher at Memorial Stadium during the Orioles' first season in 1954, then became a full-time usher in 1958 before becoming the umpires attendant in 1960, assisting the umpires before, during and after Orioles games. One of Ernie's daily responsibilities was rubbing the game baseballs with mud, a meticulous process he took pride in explaining to visitors.
Ernie's commitment to his job was evident in his string of 3,769 consecutive regular season, 40 post-season, nine exhibition and one All-Star Game worked over 48 years from 1960 through 2007. The streak ended only because Cal Ripken Jr. requested that Ernie be his guest at his Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Cooperstown, New York. Ernie returned to his post immediately after the Hall of Fame weekend, working for three more seasons with the club before his death.
In 2004, Ernie was named winner of the Herb Armstrong Award, presented by the Oriole Advocates' Hall of Fame Committee to non-uniformed personnel who have distinguished themselves in service to the Orioles.
"For over half a century Ernie Tyler was an integral part of the Orioles organization," said Orioles Managing Partner Peter Angelos. "Ernie's kindness, loyalty and commitment to his work and to the Orioles defined who he was both at the ballpark and in his personal life. Ernie will be greatly missed by all who knew him and on behalf of the club I extend my condolences to his wife, Juliane, and his family."
Ernie and his wife, Juliane, were married 64 years. In addition to his wife, Ernie is survived by 11 children - Theresa, Regina, Phil, Jim, Ernie Jr., Mary, Judy, Michael, Fred, Chris and Michelle. Nine Tylers, including Ernie, Juliane and seven of the children, worked for the Orioles at one time. His sons Jim and Fred currently serve as the home and visiting clubhouse managers, respectively.
Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later time.