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They Called Me God: The Best Umpire Who Ever Lived Hardcover – March 25, 2014

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They Called Me God: The Best Umpire Who Ever Lived + Called Out but Safe: A Baseball Umpire's Journey + Where Nobody Knows Your Name: Life In the Minor Leagues of Baseball
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Doug Harvey made his Major League umpiring debut in 1962 and retired after 4,673 games in 1992. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010. As one would expect of an umpire, his memoir is confident and sure. Whatever call he made, safe or out, ball or strike, he never backed down and never changed his mind. Along with best-selling coauthor Golenbock (The Bronx Zoo, 1979, and Balls, 1984, among others), Harvey guides readers through his career: his relatively short apprenticeship in the minors, his time as a basketball referee, his early years with a contentious crew chief in the Majors, and his long run as veteran and much-respected ump. And, as readers would hope, there are dozens of anecdotes involving some of baseball’s greatest names, including Sandy Koufax, Ted Williams, and Willie Mays. Though he never changed his mind, Harvey prided himself on being a good listener, even to irate managers, and the best tales are those about the behind-the-scenes machinations of such legendary field generals as Leo Durocher, Sparky Anderson, Tommy Lasorda, and Walter Alston. Baseball fans will relish this my-way-or-the-highway memoir. --Wes Lukowsky

About the Author

Doug Harvey is a Hall of Fame umpire whose career total of 4,673 games—including five World Series—ranks third in major league history.

Peter Golenbock has written eight New York Times bestsellers, among them some of baseball’s most important books, including Dynasty: The New York Yankees 1949-64; The Bronx Zoo (with Sparky Lyle); Number 1 (with Billy Martin); Balls (with Greg Nettles); and Idiot (with Johnny Damon), as well as Personal Fouls and American Prince (with Tony Curtis).
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books (March 25, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476748780
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476748788
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #515,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By K. Irwin on April 2, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Doug Harvey is impressed with himself. That's OK. He was one of the great umpires, after all. And as such, one would expect a depth of insight into the game, the players, and the ancillary characters. But depth isn't here. Instead we get a lot of VERY brief anecdotes with minimal context, short descriptions, and the same trite adjectives used over and over. Oh yeah, and a reminder every 4 pages that he was the greatest umpire that ever lived.

Harvey struck out with me. Ron Luciano's books or Bruce Weber's "As They See 'em" were infinitely more interesting, insightful, and entertaining windows onto the life of the baseball umpire.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Randy Wolf on May 4, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book was a great disappointment. He may have been a great umpire but his ability to relay the vast experience he has in writing was pretty lame. He is obviously impressed with himself and proud of his achievements, however, the book seems to be solely an effort to convince the reader of something most of us probably already knew. As a previous reviewer pointed out, every fourth page he stresses the kind of umpire he was with regard to honesty and integrity. Again, it seems like he doesn't think anyone believes that so he has to plead his case over and over again.

The anecdotes are shallow, and not particularly funny or interesting. I love baseball and the insights into the game most people don't see are what interests me the most. This book does not deliver on that level. Very little in the way of back stories.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Ted Lehmann on April 6, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
They Called Me God: The Best Umpire Who Ever Lived by Doug Harvey with Peter Golenbock (Gallery Books: Simon & Schuster, 2014, 288 pages, $27.00) is a very episodic collection of sometimes quite interesting tales of baseball which would frequently benefit from the help of quality co- (read ghost) writing superior to that provided by Peter Golenbock, although, if Harvey is to be taken at his word, he's not a man to be argued with or to negotiate on an even playing field. Harvey, who was active as a major league umpire from 1962 – 1992, has been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and been voted the second best umpire, behind Bill Klem, of all time. The book is filled with Harvey's assessment of ball players, managers, and fellow umpires based largely on their deportment on and off the field as well as the degree to which they easily bent themselves to his enormous will and sense of himself. Players and managers who learned not to argue or to do so according to Harvey's set of rules come off looking pretty good, while those who gave him a great deal of difficulty are hammered. Similarly, umpires who bent to his or agreed with his standards for umpiring come across as being good officials, although none but a couple of his mentors ever measure up to him. Harvey's egotism and his sense of his own correctness dominate the book. He frequently asserts his fairness and his willingness not to carry grudges, while his stories emphasize the cost to players, managers, and the game of his propensity to get even. I'm unsure whether these marked contrasts represent his lack of self-awareness or the depth of his hypocrisy.

Doug Harvey grew up in the poverty of the Imperial Valley of California during the great depression. His father worked hard to maintain a hard-scrabble existence.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Old Man on April 28, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
There are a few good anecdotes and some interesting historical context in this book. That said, it's almost painful to read because of the unrelenting arrogance, self-importance, and boastfulness of the author. Any man who feels the need to advertise his own magnificence to the level that Harvey does must have some deep-seated insecurities. He may have been a decent umpire, but he gets zero points for style.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Barry Sparks VINE VOICE on March 25, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Doug Harvey umpired for 31 years (1962-1992) in the National League, spanning 4,673 games. He's one of only 10 umpires in the Hall of Fame. Harvey, famous for his nickname 'God,' says, "I don't believe I ever made a wrong call."

Harvey, who didn't attend umpire school or have any connections in the major leagues, started at Class C for $250 a month and made it to the major leagues within four years, faster than any other umpire.

Harvey was known for always emphasizing integrity and fairness, memorizing the rule book word for word and not taking much crap from players or managers. If they called him anything besides his name, ump or mister, they were quickly ejected. "We don't ask for respect, we demand it," he says.

Harvey advocated staying calm (give the manager or player 20 seconds to spout off), listen to whoever's complaining and then make them listen to you, and don't let anyone get in your face. He says he gave managers and players the option of being ejected. He warned them that if they persisted, they would be ejected. It was their choice.

Umpires are the only thing that stand between fairness and chaos. And, umpires are part of the game to make sure neither team has an unfair advantage. Harvey maintains that baseball wouldn't survive without umpires.

Here are some of Harvey's other observations;

Frank Robinson: "Toughest player I ever faced."

Fred Hutchinson: "Toughest manager and all the umps despised him."

Walt Alston: "Most respect for any man I umped for."

Bruce Bochy: "Best manager in the game today."

Sandy Koufax: "Best pitcher I ever saw."

Pete Rose: "Most intense player.
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