From Publishers Weekly
This very funny memoir offers a hilarious look into life behind the plates by the man who was voted the most colorful umpire in the American League in a 1986 Sporting News poll. After 36 years as a professional umpire, with 23 seasons spent in the major leagues, Kaiser has seen just about everything there is to see in baseball, and he recounts it all-from his early hustling days in the minor leagues, surviving by trading stolen league baseballs for food and gas, to his final days risking (and losing) his six-figure income in the unsuccessful senior umpires' dispute with MLB in 1999, when he was persuaded to resign as a negotiating tactic ("one of the worst decisions made in the whole history of labor negotiations"). But the book's main strength is that Kaiser, writing with Fisher (coauthor of such books as A Lawyer's Life, by Johnnie Cochran), presents in a lively and energetic style at least one great story (and sometimes more) per page, featuring such baseball legends as manager Billy Martin ("I was as unpredictable as he was") and third-baseman George Brett ("who liked to tell me dirty jokes while the pitcher was warming up"). Kaiser offers insights into umping that all baseball fans and potential umpires should memorize: "as an umpire you can't have any favorites. You have to despise every player and manager equally."
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Kaiser, a major-league baseball umpire for 23 years, paid his dues in the minor leagues where, he recalls, "everyone was angry." He tells the story of those angry early years and of his career in the big leagues in a manner that is typical of most sports memoirs: anecdotes are loosely organized around topics, but no matter how you slice it, they are still a series of mostly funny stories in which the butt of the joke rotates between umps, players, managers, and even the occasional fan. Among the highlights are accounts of the time Kaiser changed the rules on a baseball-playing Michael Jordan and what happened when his umping partner left his glass eye on a training table. But beyond the humor, Kaiser and coauthor Fisher manage to communicate the commitment to professionalism that umpires bring to the game. An enjoyable insider's view of baseball. Wes LukowskyCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved