When Hennepin County District Judge Harry Crump was handed a case attempting to eliminate the Minnesota Twins following a vote by Major League Baseball's team owners, he cited the importance of keeping baseball in the community as a reason to keep the team alive.
"Clearly, more than money is at stake," he said at the time, later adding: "The Twins brought the community together with Homer Hankies and bobblehead dolls."
Crump died in his sleep in late summer at age 85 in Florida, where he lived with his wife, Faith Crump.
Judges and attorneys described Crump in interviews as an insightful and poised judge who gave lawyers challenging and thoughtful questions to consider in each case.
Crump previously lived in Chicago, where he attended law school at DePaul University while working as a pharmacist and raising a family. After getting his law degree in 1974, Crump moved for a job with the National Labor Relations Board, picking Minnesota over other states for the skiing and quality of schools.
He was assigned the Twins case in 2001, after owners voted 28 to 2 to kill the Twins and the Montreal Expos. The owners' goal was to create leverage in negotiations with the Players Association.
Crump issued an injunction and pointed to a lease agreement, saying the Twins were required to play in the Metrodome in 2002. But he also cited the team's importance to the community, saying it would cause "irreparable harm" if the lease were not fulfilled.
Crump was the Star Tribune's 2002 Sportsperson of the year for saving the team. The Twins went on to win three straight division titles after Crump's ruling.
Faith Crump said other lawyers would make sure to thank him if they saw him in the city.
"He knows a lot of attorneys who he'd come across in the skyway, and they would thank him for that decision," she said.
While her father was "low-key" when it came to talking about himself, daughter Diane Crump-Fogle said he was amused by how much the Twins case blew up.
"He was surprised it got so much traction that it ended up in the Washington Post; he was tickled with himself," Crump-Fogle said.
Marshall Tanick, a veteran Twin Cities attorney, said Crump's ruling had long-lasting impacts in the sports world in helping keep teams in their cities.
"His decision had profound impact on not just baseball, but it cut across a wide swath of sports, providing strong precedent for cities to prevent their teams from leaving," he said.
Crump also focused on explaining why it was in the public's interest to keep the Twins playing, he said.
"That included jobs the Twins created for folks working in the Metrodome, and helping the downtown economy," Tanick said.
Crump, in general, "didn't say much, but he was very insightful on the bench," Tanick said.
Retired District Court Judge Gary Meyer, a longtime friend, said Crump was a good judge but also the kind of person you would gravitate to at gatherings.
"Always entertaining to talk to and full of stories," Meyer said.
Crump's family said he was a renaissance man, someone who loved golf, skiing and at one point was part-owner of a racing and automotive shop in Chicago.
Inez Crump, another daughter, said she admired her father's career and described him as a family man who who actively helped raise his four kids after a previous marriage ended.
"He was always very encouraging to us, saying we could be whatever we wanted. … He was the best man I've ever known," she said. "I'll miss him dearly."
Along with his wife and daughters, survivors include sons Don and Harvey, one grandchild and seven great-grandchildren.