Richie Phillips's 21-year reign as head of the baseball umpires ended yesterday when his members voted to form another union.

In a mail vote conducted by the National Labor Relations Board, 57 umpires voted to form a new union, 35 voted to retain the existing union and one vote was voided because an umpire signed the secret ballot.

Under federal law, a majority determined the result of the election. The NLRB will certify the election as official in seven days unless an objection is filed.

In the weeks leading up to the election, most AL umpires appeared to support the dissidents, headed by AL umps Joe Brinkman, John Hirschbeck and Dave Phillips--who is not related to Richie Phillips.

Most NL umpires backed Richie Phillips and union president Jerry Crawford, who sat with his elbows on the table as the votes were counted. . . .

Pete Rose stepped up his efforts to get back into baseball, saying he had handwriting and fingerprint evidence to bolster his case.

Rose said one of his lawyers, Roger Makley, will meet in the next two months with baseball's top lawyer, Bob DuPuy, in an effort to end his lifetime ban from the sport.

"The last 10 years have been hell for me," Rose said at a news conference to launch an Internet petition drive. "I survived because I'm a survivor."

Following an investigation of his gambling, baseball's career hits leader agreed to the lifetime ban in August 1989. While Rose was hopeful the meeting with DuPuy is the first step on the road to reinstatement, Commissioner Bud Selig played down the development.

"Mr. Rose's attorney has written me a letter. I read it very thoughtfully, very carefully, and turned it over to Mr. DuPuy. There's nothing more involved right now than that, nor should there be any more read into it," Selig said at an owners' meeting in Irving, Tex.

DuPuy described the meeting as more of a courtesy in which he would listen to what Rose's side had to say and pass it along to Selig. . . .

Adrian Beltre's agent said he has evidence proving the Los Angeles Dodgers altered his client's birth certificate to sign the third baseman when he was underage. Scott Boras, who wants Beltre declared a free agent, said he obtained his client's personnel file from the Dodgers under California state law and it contained four visas that showed Beltre was 15 when the team signed him in 1994, not 16, the youngest age baseball allows teams to sign players. . . .

Former Colorado Rockies manager Jim Leyland wasn't out of work for long, signing a contract yesterday to be a major league scout with the St. Louis Cardinals. Leyland will scout mainly out of his home area in Pittsburgh, and be available for special assignments.

College Football

Navy Gains Strength

Free safety Chris Lepore, Navy's leading tackler, will return for the Midshipmen's 100th game against Army Saturday after sitting out the Hawaii game two weeks ago with turf toe. Quarterback Brian Broadwater also is ready to return after missing four games with a fractured clavicle he suffered against Akron.

Lepore leads Navy (4-7) with 120 tackles, and Coach Charlie Weatherbie said unless any last-minute problems occur with his toe, Lepore will start.


Guess Who?

Tiger Woods was voted PGA Tour player of the year after putting together the best season in more than 40 years.

The award is based on a vote of the players, and Woods left little room for argument by closing out the year with five victories in his last six events, including a major.

"I've had a good year, and I'm very proud of the way I played," Woods said. "It's a season I will remember for a long time, and one during which I learned a great deal. But in this game, you can't rest."

Carlos Franco, 34, who grew up in Paraguay, was voted rookie of the year after winning twice and finishing 11th on the money list with more than $1.8 million. Steve Pate, who has had as many injuries as PGA Tour victories, was voted the comeback player of the year. . . .

One problem in staging a New Year's golf tournament--even when you're Woods--might be finding participants in the pro-am.

"We're contacting athletes and celebrities right now, and we've got a few, but we're not going to release all the names until we get everybody confirmed," Woods said at a news conference for the inaugural Williams World Challenge at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. The 72-hole event runs from Dec. 29 to Jan. 2, with the Pro-Am on Dec. 31--a buffer between the second and third rounds.


United Conquers World

In Tokyo, captain Roy Keane scored the only goal, giving European Cup champion Manchester United a 1-0 victory over Brazil's Palmeiras for the first Toyota Cup title won by an English club. The annual event, started in 1960, has traditionally served as a world club final between the champions of Europe and South America. This might have been the last meaningful Toyota Cup, because FIFA has created the World Club Championship, which will be staged for the first time in Brazil in January. Manchester United will play in that event. . . .

Two-time world player of the year Ronaldo could miss the rest of the season after the Inter Milan striker underwent knee ligament surgery in Paris.

Auto Racing

Martin Recovering

NASCAR star Mark Martin is recuperating at home from back surgery and does not plan to race again until February.

He was operated on in New Smyrna, Fla., on Nov. 20, to repair damaged vertebrae in his lower back. He was released from the hospital Friday and begins physical therapy today.

"I'm glad to be home," Martin said. "But I'm getting bored. I'm not in any pain, which makes it even tougher to take it easy and rest. I can get up and walk around every few hours, but other than that I have to lie down."

Winter Sports

Snowboarding Races

France's Nicolas Huet and Isabelle Blanc won the opening parallel giant slalom races of the Snowboard World Cup season in Sestriere, Italy.

Huet won the men's race, defeating Stephen Copp of Sweden in the final. Sweden's Richard Richardsson, the world champion, was third. Blanc, the giant slalom gold medalist at last January's world championships, defeated Rosey Fletcher of the United States in the women's final. Another American, Sondra van Ert, was third.