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Richie Phillips, former head of umpires’ union, passes away at age 72

Jun 3, 2013, 8:44 PM EDT

Richie Phillips AP AP

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal passes along word that Richie Phillips, who served as the head of the umpires’ union for over 20 years, died last Friday at the age of 72.

Phillips took over as the general counsel and executive director for the Major League Umpires Association in 1978. During his tenure, he led multiple work stoppages for improved salaries and benefits. He was ultimately ousted from his position after recommending that the umpires resign in 1999 as a negotiating tactic. The plan backfired, as MLB accepted the resignations. The umpires ultimately decertified and started a new union without him.

While Phillips’ legacy is complex, there were sweeping changes under his leadership. As Rosenthal details, when Phillips began, rookie umpires earned $17,500 per season while most veterans made $40,000. By the time he was done, umpires earned as much as $282,500 and also received postseason bonuses.

  1. tanzkommandant - Jun 3, 2013 at 8:50 PM

    Oh wait – was he a great big fat person?

    • padraighansen - Jun 3, 2013 at 11:07 PM

      Unreal. Keeping it classy, as alway. If you weren’t such a coward, maybe you’d post with your real name. Oh, wait – that’d require a male organ, integrity, and conviction on your part. My mistake.

      • badintent - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:52 AM

        Amen brother. I second the motion , the motion is passed to have Shaq sit on tanknazi for the entire WS.

      • spursareold - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:41 PM

        Total whiff on the Silence of the Lambs reference.

  2. sisqsage - Jun 3, 2013 at 9:10 PM

    What I remember about him as a young baseball fan in the 70s and 80s, he would always look the other way when Joe West or somebody did something totally out of line on the field. That attitude has clearly carried into today, which is not a good legacy to have. Baseball is worse off because of it.

  3. mybrunoblog - Jun 3, 2013 at 9:23 PM

    Forgive me for talking bad of the dead. I always thought Phillips had an air of arrogance and entitlement about him and the union. Verducci saying that his “legacy is complex” is a polite way of saying he did some positive things but also a bunch of negative things too.

  4. mazblast - Jun 4, 2013 at 2:22 AM

    Big, fat, arrogant SOB. I’ll always remember him as being loud, overbearing, and abusive when it wasn’t necessary. That 1999 move was possibly the worst move in sports labor history, and a rare instance of Bud Selig coming away with a 100% win.

  5. psunick - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    Agreed, maz.

    He was a loudmouthed thug.

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