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Detroit ump Rick Reed, who worked last game at Tiger Stadium, dies at 70

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Rick Reed, a Detroit native and longtime major-league umpire who worked the last game at Tiger Stadium and the first game at Comerica Park, died last Thursday.

Reed was 70.

Reed retired before the 2010 season, following a series of strokes late in his career, which spanned three decades and more than 3,0000 games.

Rick Reed chats with then-TIgers manager Jim Leyland.

He first got interested in umpiring while a student at Eastern Michigan in 1970s. He had taken a sports officiating class, en route to a degree in business administration.

"I got an 'A' in the class," Reed told the Oakland Press in 2010, shortly after he retired. "I thought this might be pretty good. I wasn't getting a lot of those type of grades in my classes at the time."

Reed broke into the major leagues as a replacement umpire in the late 1970s during a strike, and then a substitute ump during the early 1980s before he made the full-time American League roster in 1983. He worked through the 2009 season.

Among his career highlights, Reed was behind the plate for Game 6 of the 1991 World Series in which Kirby Puckett hit the walk-off home run to send it to Game 7. That was Reed's lone World Series, but it was a classic, with Jack Morris and John Smoltz squaring off in an epic Game 7 the next night.

"That was a terrific series," Reed told the Toledo Blade in 2010. "We had four walk-off games in that series, and the home team won every game. It was a great World Series. I also remember that, the day after the World Series ended, 24 inches of snow fell in Minneapolis.

He worked seven postseason series and two All-Star games, and was promoted to crew chief in 1999.

That year, the Detroit Osborn alum and son of a Detroit police officer worked first base for the final game at Tiger Stadium (fellow Detroiter Rocky Roe had home plate), and was on the field, standing next to Ernie Harwell, during the postgame celebration.

The following spring, Reed worked home plate for the first game at Comerica Park.

Reed also had a bit speaking role in the 1999 baseball movie, "For Love of the Game," starring Kevin Costner. He supposedly got hit in the mask 14 times by pitches from Costner that missed catcher John C. Reilly's glove.

That was a rare time Reed was in the spotlight. He was considered a low-key umpire, who rarely was among the leaders in ejections. He worked 3,391 major-league games.

After he retired, he worked for the league office, observing umpires, and was a regular in the Comerica Park press box. He also oversaw officiating for the Summit League in basketball.

Reed is survived by wife Cindy and two sons, Ryan and Tyler. Modetz Funeral Homes in Rochester is handling the arrangements and services, which will be private. A public celebration of life will take place at a later date.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984