PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Richie Phillips, a hard-charging negotiator for NBA referees and Major League Baseball umpires, has died. He was 72.
Phillips’ death was reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer, which said he died Friday of cardiac arrest at his second home in Cape May, N.J. His death was confirmed by the D’Anjolell Memorial Home in Broomall, where a viewing is scheduled Thursday.
Phillips represented NBA referees in the 1970s and ’80s and led MLB umps from 1978 until 1999, when a negotiating tactic of mass resignations backfired. That led umpires to abandon Phillips’ Major League Umpires Association and form a new union, the World Umpires Association.
Nonetheless, umpires made tremendous gains under Phillips. When he became their negotiator in 1978, rookie umpires made $17,500. By 2000, they earned at least $95,000.