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

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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.