Veteran umpire Steve Rippley told the NL office that he's resigning after 17 years in the major leagues.

Rippley, 45, said he called NL Senior Vice President Katy Feeney and told her of his decision. He said he's quitting because of the way baseball has handled the dispute that has cost 22 umpires their jobs.

"I don't feel like baseball is putting a good product on the field, and I don't want to be part of an inferior product," Rippley said.

Rippley said that while he's adhering to a request from NL umpires supervisor Paul Runge to think about his decision over the weekend, he doesn't expect to change his mind.

PASSING THE BUCS': Someone made off with the gold World Series trophy won in 1979 by the Pirates, but it turned up yesterday behind a church. A 12-year-old boy doing cleanup work at the church found it in a black plastic bag outside the back door, police said. Two pennants were missing from the trophy -- the Red Sox' and the Athletics'. Authorities said they don't know who took the trophy from the lobby of the Allegheny Club at Three Rivers Stadium.

GALARRAGA: Andres Galarraga, the Braves' leading hitter last season, has missed the entire season while undergoing cancer treatment. But, with doctors saying his illness is cured, he returned to Atlanta for last night's game and plans to spend the rest of the season providing moral support to his teammates. Wearing his customary No. 14 uniform, Galarraga accompanied coach Pat Corrales to home plate for the exchange of lineup cards before the game, receiving a standing ovation from the Turner Field crowd of 38,389.