Ken Kaiser, um­pire who quit dur­ing labour talks, dies at 72

Cape Breton Post - - Obituaries/Business -

For­mer ma­jor league um­pire Ken Kaiser, a color­ful fig­ure be­tween the lines who briefly moon­lighted as a pro­fes­sional wrestler to make ends meet while work­ing in the mi­nor leagues, has died. He was 72.

The World Um­pires As­so­ci­a­tion said Thurs­day he died in his home­town of Rochester, New York, on Tues­day. Kaiser had di­a­betes for years.

An Amer­i­can League um­pire from 1977-99, Kaiser um­pired two World Se­ries, one All-Star Game and sev­eral play­off se­ries.

The 6-foot-3 Kaiser, who wrote in his book, “Planet of the Umps: A Base­ball Life from be­hind the Plate,” that when he grad­u­ated from high school in 1964 his “long-range plan was lunch.”

He weighed just un­der 300 pounds and of­ten was crit­i­cized for that portly physique dur­ing the more than 3,000 big-league games he um­pired.

For­mer Chicago White Sox an­nouncer Jimmy Pier­sall once called him “a gut­less, lazy whale,” while fel­low for­mer um­pire and men­tor Ron Lu­ciano de­scribed him as “like a bar­rel on which two arms had been stuck on back­wards.”

In his book, pub­lished in 2003, Kaiser wrote of his decade in the mi­nor leagues and off-sea­son jobs that in­cluded bar bouncer, bank teller, and that short stint as the wrestler dubbed “Hatchet Man.”

In 1986, Kaiser was voted most color­ful um­pire in the Amer­i­can League in a poll con­ducted by The Sport­ing News.

Kaiser’s um­pir­ing ca­reer ended when he joined a group of um­pires who sub­mit­ted their res­ig­na­tions in 1999 dur­ing labour ne­go­ti­a­tions, a gam­ble by the Ma­jor League Um­pires As­so­ci­a­tion that failed. He was not re­hired.

He is sur­vived by two adult chil­dren. Fu­neral plans are in­com­plete.

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