ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Former major league umpire Ken Kaiser, a colorful figure between the lines who briefly moonlighted as a professional wrestler to make ends meet while working in the minor leagues, has died. He was 72.

The World Umpires Association said Thursday he died in his hometown of Rochester, New York, on Tuesday. Kaiser had diabetes for years.

An American League umpire from 1977-99, Kaiser umpired two World Series, one All-Star Game and several playoff series.

The 6-foot-3 Kaiser, who wrote in his book, “Planet of the Umps: A Baseball Life from behind the Plate,” that when he graduated from high school in 1964 his “long-range plan was lunch.” He weighed just under 300 pounds and often was criticized for that portly physique during the more than 3,000 big-league games he umpired.

Former Chicago White Sox announcer Jimmy Piersall once called him “a gutless, lazy whale,” while fellow former umpire and mentor Ron Luciano described him as “like a barrel on which two arms had been stuck on backwards.”

In his book, published in 2003, Kaiser wrote of his decade in the minor leagues and offseason jobs that included bar bouncer, bank teller, and that short stint as the wrestler dubbed “Hatchet Man.”

In 1986, Kaiser was voted most colorful umpire in the American League in a poll conducted by The Sporting News.

Kaiser’s umpiring career ended when he joined a group of umpires who submitted their resignations in 1999 during labor negotiations, a gamble by the Major League Umpires Association that failed. He was not rehired.

INDIANS: Even before Jay Bruce played his first game for Cleveland, Manager Terry Francona said the slugger boosted the banged-up Indians.

“It gives you a little bounce in your step,” Francona said Thursday before the Indians opened a four-game series against Tampa Bay. “There’s no guarantees. There’s not supposed to be, but he is a really good run producer, and to add him to your lineup is really going to help.”

Bruce wasn’t at Tropicana Field in time to start vs. the Rays. The AL Central leaders acquired the 30-year-old Bruce from the New York Mets on Wednesday night for minor league pitcher Ryder Ryan.

Bruce hit 29 home runs, tied for fourth-most in the NL, and drove in 75 runs for the Mets, playing the outfield and occasionally at first base. Francona said he wants to talk with the left-handed power hitter before making any long-term decisions, but he said Bruce will probably bat fifth on Friday night.

RANGERS: Texas received right-handed reliever Jhan Marinez on a waiver claim from Pittsburgh. Marinez, who turns 29 on Saturday, has gone 0-3 with a 3.91 ERA over 39 relief appearances this season with Milwaukee and Pittsburgh.

CARDINALS: The team is looking for its rally cat.

The feisty feline became an internet sensation Wednesday night, sprinting onto the field at Busch Stadium with the bases loaded for the Cardinals with two outs in the sixth inning. The cat emerged from near the visitors’ dugout on the third-base side and raced into the outfield, the fur on its tail standing on end.

Kansas City was leading 5-4 at the time and play was delayed for a couple minutes while the grounds crew collected the cat. On the first pitch after play resumed, Yadier Molina hit a grand slam off Peter Moylan to give the Cardinals an 8-5 lead. The cat was instantly dubbed #RallyCat on Twitter, and St. Louis went on to win – its fifth victory in a row.

The Cardinals said Thursday that a fan grabbed the cat after its grounds crew employee put the animal down to receive treatment for scratches and bites. The Cardinals said the fan claimed the cat was hers and abruptly left with the animal after answering some questions from security.

The Cardinals said the team hopes to find the cat to make sure it is properly cared for, and they are developing a stray animal protocol to ensure the safety of grounds crew members in the future.


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