Angry ump: Garcia says he kept quiet to protect son-in-law

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FILE - In this Oct. 11, 1986, file photo, California Angels' Gary Pettis, left, is caught stealing second base by Boston Red Sox shortstop Spike Owen (5) as umpire Richie Garcia, center, looks on during the third inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif. Ten years after Garcia was fired by Major League Baseball, he wants to set the record straight: He did not get fired for trying to evaluate his son-in-law, then a minor league umpire. Garcia thinks baseball's top executives just wanted him out. (AP Photo/Jeff Robbins, File)

NEW YORK – Richie Garcia was among baseball’s best-rated and most popular umpires, and like many umps was known for the ones he missed: the Jeffrey Maier call in the playoffs, the pitch to Tino Martinez in the World Series.

He lost his job in the failed labor strategy of mass resignations in 1999 and was welcomed back to Major League Baseball two years later as a supervisor. Then, out of nowhere it seemed, he was fired on the eve of the 2010 season.

Garcia stayed quiet for a decade, not wanting to cause any problems for son-in-law Vic Carapazza, among the top umps of the current group.

Now, at 77, Garcia is fed up. He’s feeling impugned by a former colleague in a lawsuit Garcia has nothing to do with.

“I worked too hard to keep a good reputation in baseball for these people to just come out and say whatever the hell they want, to just say things just out of the clear blue sky,” Garcia said during a series of interviews in the past month with The Associated Press.

“I’ve kept my mouth shut all these years because of my son-in-law. I kept my mouth shut because I’m protecting him and my daughter. And I’m just sick of it,” he said.

A big league umpire from 1975-99 and a supervisor for nine years, Garcia was abruptly dismissed. The commissioner’s office announced his departure two days before opening day. No reason was given.

Garcia never tried to explain.