Sports

Richie Phillips dies at 72; led umpires, NBA refs

Richie Phillips (right) and umpire Bruce Froemming flashed victory to other umpires.
Richie Phillips (right) and umpire Bruce Froemming flashed victory to other umpires. 1979 file/ap

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PHILADELPHIA — Richie Phillips, a tough-talking Philly lawyer who became a negotiator for Major League Baseball umpires and NBA referees, 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.

‘‘We got so much because of Richie — pensions, vacations, better salaries,’’ former umpire and board member Don Denkinger told The Associated Press by telephone on Tuesday.

Phillips represented NBA referees in the 1970s and ‘80s and led MLB umps from 1978 until 1999, when a failed tactic of mass resignations cost 22 umpires their jobs. The setback prompted umpires to abandon the Major League Umpires Association and form a new union, the World Umpires Association.

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