Cover image for Center field on fire : an umpire's life with pine tar bats, spitballs, and corked personalities
Center field on fire : an umpire's life with pine tar bats, spitballs, and corked personalities
Phillips, Dave, 1943-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chicago. Ill. : Triumph Books, [2004]

Physical Description:
xi, 211 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Personal Subject:
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV865.P49 A3 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



As entertaining as a Lou Piniella tantrum and as juicy as a Gaylord Perry spitball, Center Field on Fire chronicles the remarkable 32-year career of major league umpire Dave Phillips, as written with veteran sportswriter Rob Rains. Phillips walked out of the umpires' dressing room ready to start the second game of a doubleheader at Chicago's Comiskey Park on July 12, 1979, only to witness center field on fire. Disco Demolition Night--a promotion created by White Sox owner Bill Veeck--had resulted in the outfield literally going up in smoke as thousands of disco records were burned between the two games of the doubleheader. That night was only one of the many episodes experienced by Phillips, who was also behind the plate during the notorious George Brett pine tar bat incident. Phillips describes how he once challenged Billy Martin to a fight, why he ejected Gaylord Perry for throwing a spitball, and how confiscating Albert Belle's corked bat led to a robbery and a scandal. In a book filled with humorous anecdotes, Phillips also offers his opinions about some of the most controversial personalities in baseball, including commissioner Bud Selig, all-time hits leader Pete Rose, and former umpires union president Richie Phillips. Dave Phillips worked four World Series, six League Championship Series, and three Division Series, making Center Field on Fire a book no baseball fan will want to miss.

Author Notes

Rob Rains is the author of 20 books, Rains lives in St. Louis with his wife, Sally, and sons B.J. and Mike

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

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 Pitt Copyright 2004 Booklist

Library Journal Review

One of major league baseball's top umpires, Philips discusses his lengthy career, which included working several league championships and World Series. In conjunction with sportswriter Rains, Philips relates how he was drawn to umpiring for "one simple reason-money." He disputes notions that umpires are jaded, revealing instead that poor decisions made on the baseball diamond continue to torment the sport's on-field arbiters. Most interesting for many readers will be his take on his battles with various controversial figures, nearly going head-to-head with Billy Martin and ejecting Gaylord Perry for tossing illegal spitballs. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Bob Costas
Forewordp. vii
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Chapter 1 An Umpire's Lifep. 1
Chapter 2 The Minorsp. 13
Chapter 3 Crazy Nightsp. 35
Chapter 4 Spitballs and Illegal Substancesp. 59
Chapter 5 Pine Tar and Corked Batsp. 75
Chapter 6 Tantrumsp. 91
Chapter 7 Brawls and Beanballsp. 115
Chapter 8 Steroids and Other Drugsp. 125
Chapter 9 Juiced Balls and Strikesp. 133
Chapter 10 Umpires' Nightmaresp. 155
Chapter 11 Intimate Conversationsp. 173
Chapter 12 Looking Aheadp. 195
Indexp. 205