Classic baseball autobiography by an umpire who served 13 years in the minors before a 23-year major league run that ended abruptly with the 2002 umpire lockout/strike/resignations that ended badly for some, including Kaiser.
Funny, fast-moving and full of stories, within the genre this is a classic. Kaiser was a high-school graduate (barely--as he said "I didn't know the meaning of the word intimidation. Of course, I didn't know the meaning of a lot of other words either.") joining a friend on a lark when he went to umpire school in 1963. After his second time through the school, and dismissal from several very low minor league jobs, he finally made a career of it, and loved it the whole way through to the bitter end.
Kaiser is honest about his bitterness of how his career ended, but maintains his humor and sense of scale throughout the book, just as he has maintained his integrity since the strike.
There are some points in this book where I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes. While you may think that baseball managers and umpires are truly having an argument, there are times when it a choreographed bit of pure entertainment. Baseball has always been different from other sports in that arguing vehemently with umpires is considered an essential part of managing and coaching. Ken Kaiser was an umpire in professional baseball for thirty-six years, starting in the lowest of the … more
I love reading and writing about what I have read, making the connections and marking the comparisons and contrasts. God has given man the amazing power to invent language and the means to record it which … more
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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.