They Called Me God

The Best Umpire Who Ever Lived

By Doug Harvey; Peter Golenbock
(Gallery Books, Hardcover, 9781476748788, 274pp.)

Publication Date: March 25, 2014

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In the pageantry of baseball, one select group is virtually unknown in the outside world, derided by fans, faced with split-second choices that spell victory or defeat. These men are up-close observers of the action, privy to inside jokes, blood feuds, benches-clearing brawls, and managers' expletive-filled tirades. In this wonderful memoir, Hall of Fame umpire Doug Harvey takes us within baseball as you've never seen it, with unforgettable inside stories of baseball greats such as Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax, and Whitey Herzog.
Doug Harvey was a California farm boy, a high school athlete who nevertheless knew that what he really wanted was to become an unsung hero--a major league umpire. Working his way through the minor leagues, earning three hundred dollars a month, he survived just about everything, even riots in stadiums in Puerto Rico. And while players and other umps hit the bars at night, Harvey memorized the rule book. In 1962, he broke into the bigs and was soon listening to rookie Pete Rose worrying that he would be cut by the Reds and laying down the law with managers such as Tommy Lasorda and Joe Torre.
This colorful memoir takes the reader behind the plate for some of baseball's most memorable moments, including:
- Roberto Clemente's three thousandth and final hit
- The "I don't believe what I just saw" heroic three-and-two pinch-hit home run by Kirk Gibson in the '88 World Series
- The nail-biting excitement of the close-fought '68 World Series, when Doug called St. Louis Cardinal Lou Brock out at home plate and turned the trajectory of the series
But beyond the drama, Harvey turned umpiring into an art. He was a man so respected, whose calls were so feared and infallible, that the players called him God. And through it all, he lived by three rules: never take anything from a player, never back down from a call, and never carry a grudge.
A book for anyone who loves baseball, "They Called Me God "is a funny and fascinating tale of on- and off-the-field action, peopled by unforgettable characters from Bob Gibson to Nolan Ryan, and a treatise on good umpiring techniques. In a memoir that transcends sport, Doug Harvey tells a gripping story of responsibility, fairness, and honesty.

About the Author
Doug Harvey: artist, writer, curator, art critic, educator, experimental musician, whatever. Since the mid 90s, Doug Harvey has published over half a million words on contemporary art, art history, culture, art theory, theater, film, music, comics, architecture, design, television, advertising, cults, cigarettes, and the paranormal. As lead art critic for LA Weekly for 13 years, he wrote biweekly columns that ranged from the conventional reviews of current art exhibits in galleries to the far out contemplating semiotic implications of the appearance of Bert the Muppet on a pro-Osama Bin Laden placard. Much of his attention was devoted to fringe phenomena such as DIY cassette culture, songpoems, zines, and the art of the developmentally different. Before, during and after his tenure at the Weekly, Doug Harvey was involved in DIY zine and music publishing. His journalistic writing has also appeared in The New York Times, The Nation, Art in America, and a host of other publications. Doug Harvey is identified as sole or a primary author for more than 30 monographic publications, including volumes on the work of Elliott Hundley, Marnie Weber, Gary Panter, Basil Wolverton, Jim Shaw, Margaret Keane, Lari Pittman, Tim Hawkinson, Thomas Kinkade, Ed Big Daddy Roth, Jeffrey Vallance, and Reverend Ethan Acres.

Peter Golenbock is one of the nation's best-known sports authors and has written some of the bestselling sports books of the last thirty years. He recently completed cowriting an autobiography of Tony Curtis and is currently working on a biography of George Steinbrenner. Five of his books have been New York Times bestsellers. Golenbock's first job was in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He now lives in St. Petersburg, Florida.
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