WORKING THE PLATE: The Eric Gregg Story by Eric & Marty Appel Gregg

WORKING THE PLATE: The Eric Gregg Story

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An above-average sports bio detailing how Gregg made his way from a West Philadelphia ghetto called ""the Bottom"" to the top of his profession as the third black umpire in the history of major-league baseball. In easygoing fashion, the author (a lifelong fan of the national pastime) relates how he escaped the crime-ridden slums by enrolling in an umpire's training course after becoming the first member of his family to graduate high school. Gregg then spent nearly eight years traipsing around North America, Hawaii, and the Caribbean, officiating in many minor as well as winter leagues. While life on the road was not all fun and games for a young black man during the 1970's, he managed to keep himself on an upward track. In the Dominican Republic, moreover, Gregg wooed and won a lovely wife named Conchita, who has made him the uxorious father of four and fluent in Spanish. One season after being promoted in 1978 to the National League, the author (who won't turn 40 until next year) became embroiled in a bitter umpires' strike that tested his loyalties and ruptured old friendships. He came through, however, and made a name for himself by shedding over 100 pounds to get his weight down to about 225. Subsequently, Gregg succumbed to his appetite for junk foods, and he again tips the scales at over 350 (a level that amply justifies the book's sly title). While he has not figured in a whole lot of on-field confrontations (despite a colorful reputation), the author offers a fine selection of anecdotes and commentary (including an eyewitness account of the earthquake that abruptly halted the 1989 World Series) that convey his sincere love of the diamond game and its rewards. A winning, often inspirational, entry.

Pub Date: May 29th, 1990
Publisher: Morrow