Kaiser, Ken 1945-
KAISER, Ken 1945-
Born 1945. Education: Attended umpire school.
Home—Rochester, NY. Agent—c/o St. Martin's Press, Publicity Dept., 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.
Western Carolinas League, Minor League baseball umpire; American League, Major League baseball umpire, 1977-99. Worked as a bar bouncer, bank teller, and as the professional wrestler "Hatchet Man."
Sporting News poll, voted Most Colorful Umpire in the American League, 1986.
(With David Fisher) Planet of the Umps: A Baseball Life from behind the Plate, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Ken Kaiser is one of America's best-known baseball umpires. Kaiser has umpired two World Series, one Major League All-Star Game, and eight playoff games. Kaiser's autobiography, Planet of the Umps: A Baseball Life from behind the Plate, written with biographer David Fisher, tells not only of his twenty-three years in the major leagues but of his ten years in the minors and his off-season jobs as a professional wrestler, bar bouncer, and bank teller. In Planet of the Umps, humorous stories abound. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that every page contains "a lively and energetic style [and] at least one great story"
In his youth, Kaiser had no particular ambition. However, the life-changing experience of going to umpire school helped him find his calling. Struggling to make ends meet in the minor leagues, Kaiser worked at various jobs in the off season, including dressing in a black hood and carrying an ax in his wrestling gig as the "Hatchet Man." Kaiser relates stories about umpiring when Michael Jordan played baseball and of being behind the plate when pitcher Gaylord Perry had his 300th win for the Seattle Mariners on May 6, 1982. According to Ballplayers, Hank Aaron to Jim Lyttle: Baseball's Ultimate Biographical Reference, Kaiser once ripped a dugout phone from the wall when suspended manager Billy Martin called to direct players, telling Martin, "You're disconnected, Billy!"
Planet of the Umps discusses unions, salaries, and umpires' true feelings about players, managers, and fans. Kaiser also touches on rules about illegal pitchers' motions and the disastrous Major League labor dispute that cost him his job and his six-figure income in 1999. Carolyn T. Hughes noted in the New York Times Book Review that, despite all of the controversy, "Kaiser keeps things positive over all." Wes Lukowsky of Booklist stated that Planet of the Umps is "an enjoyable insider's view of baseball"
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Ballplayers, Hank Aaron to Jim Lyttle: Baseball's Ultimate Biographical Reference, edited by Mike Shatzkin, Idea Logical Press (New York, NY), 1990.
Kaiser, Ken, and Fisher, David, Planet of the Umps: A Baseball Life from behind the Plate, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Booklist, June 1, 2003, Wes Lukowsky, review of Planet of the Umps: A Baseball Life from behind the Plate, p. 1727.
Library Journal, May 1, 2003, Catherine Collins, review of Planet of the Umps, p. 124.
New York Times Book Review, June 29, 2003, Carolyn T. Hughes, review of Planet of the Umps, section 7, p. 16.
Publishers Weekly, April 14, 2003, review of Planet of the Umps, p. 56.
Baseball Library,http://www.baseballlibrary.com/ (May 28, 2004), Ken Kaiser biography.
South Atlantic League Web site,http://www.southatlanticleague.com/ (May 28, 2004), Ken Kaiser biography.*