Picks and Pans Review: The Umpire Strikes Back
by Ron Luciano and David Fisher
The roly-poly Keystone Kop who officiated on American League diamonds for 11 years before retiring in 1980 to become a TV sportscaster has produced one of the least self-serving baseball memoirs in many a season. Luciano says he "learned to trust certain catchers so much that I actually let them umpire for me on the bad days. The bad days usually followed the good nights." He confesses that whenever Amos Otis of the Kansas City Royals got on base, "I couldn't do anything but call him out.... I don't know why it happened, but I had a mental block." Overcompensating, Luciano always called Otis safe for one half season. Luciano was a much better umpire than he lets on, and he does himself a disservice by playing the buffoon so relentlessly. But like its author, the book is full of chuckles. Who can dislike an umpire who tossed back the paper airplanes fans sailed at him, and boasts happily, "On a windy day I could make the second deck in Yankee Stadium"? (Bantam, $12.95)
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