Phillips was a professional baseball umpire for 32 years, many of them spent in the major leagues. "I admit that sounds like a pretty good job description," he writes. "But there is much more involved in being an umpire than fans understand or appreciate." Over the years, Phillips was a diplomat, a detective, a mediator, a hero, and a villain. He threw Gaylord Perry, the notorious pitcher, out of a game, when none of his colleagues had ever managed to get the proof they needed that Perry was throwing spitballs. He had a corked bat stolen from his locker in an operation so ingenious it could have leapt off the pages of a Hollywood script. He was on duty when the Chicago White Sox held their disastrous "Disco Demolition Night" promotion, and mobs set the outfield on fire. He went face-to-face with some of baseball's most famous names but managed to earn the respect of the game's players and managers. His memoir, written with coauthor Rains, is chock-full of the kind of behind-the-scenes details that fans crave. David PittCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
From the Inside Flap
Whether you consider it a blessing or a curse, Dave Phillips was major league baseballs version of Forrest Gump throughout his remarkable 32-year umpiring career. Few people, if any, have been involved in as many historic, controversial, and just plain peculiar incidents on a baseball diamond. Among the more notable games Phillips worked was the infamous Disco Demolition Night in Chicago in 1979. He emerged from the umpires dressing room expecting to start the second game of a doubleheader, only to find that thousands of fans had converged on the field and portions of the outfield were in flames due to a radio stationsponsored promotion gone bad. Phillips was also in uniform during 1994s "Batgate" (which also took place at Chicagos Comiskey Park), during which he confiscated Albert Belles suspect bat and subsequently became the victim of one of baseballs most notorious crimes.
Phillips had legendary run-ins with the likes of Earl Weaver and Billy Martinthe most memorable of which came in the George Brett Pine Tar Game in 1983and he was the first umpire to catch famed spitballer Gaylord Perry in the act. In Center Field on Fire, Phillips recounts these and dozens of other amazing stories from his unique perspective. His tales are not only wildly entertaining and humorous, but also provide an insiders glimpse into some of baseballs most prominent and controversial personalities over the last half century. Phillips reveals telling anecdotes about Pete Rose, Reggie Jackson, Sparky Anderson, Bud Selig, and many more of the games heavy hitters, and he offers informed opinions about important issues in baseball today, such as labor relations and drug use.
One of the most talented and respected professionals in the business during his long tenure, Phillips accurately portrays the life of an umpire. Following in his fathers footsteps, he toiled in the minor leagues for several years before getting his shot in the majors. Once there, he learned how to live with the constant travel, stress, conflict, and never ending ire from fans, players, coaches, and managers.
Center Field on Fire provides a candid and humorous look inside the fascinating life of a true major leaguer.