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frank pulli, 1990 mlb umpires assoc #12,

Player: Pulli, Frank

Card: 1990 MLB Umpire’s Assoc #12

Position: Umpire

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Easton, PA-born Frank Pulli was an umpire in the Midwest League (1968), Eastern League (1969), and International League (1970-1971). He was then a National League umpire from 1972 to 1999. He umpired in two All-Star Games and four World Series.

Frank was the first base umpire in the April 8, 1974, game in which Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's home run record.

In Game 5 of the 1978 World Series, he made a controversial ruling that the New York Yankees' Reggie Jackson had not committed interference, when he deflected a throw while running from first to second base, breaking a potential double play. Tommy Lasorda, the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, argued vehemently otherwise, but with no success.

Pulli was involved in another controversial call during Game 2 of the 1979 National League Championship Series. In the top of the fifth inning, Phil Garner of the Pittsburgh Pirates hit a hard line drive that Cincinnati Reds right fielder Dave Collins appeared to catch. However, Pulli ruled that Collins had trapped the ball, a call that proved significant when Garner scored later that inning and gave the Pirates the lead. The Pirates won the game, 3–2 in ten innings, and eventually the series.

In a 1999 game between the Florida Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals, Pulli decided to utilize instant replay to determine whether a ball hit by the Marlins' Cliff Floyd had cleared the fence. Originally called a double by second-base ump Greg Gibson, the ruling was changed to a home run after the entire umpiring crew got together following a Marlins’ protest. Then St. Louis manager Tony La Russa was up in arms. Crew chief Pulli, the third-base ump that day, flexed his muscle, went into the Marlins’ dugout and watched the video. The call was changed back to a double in a game the Cardinals went on to win, 5-2

There was no provision in the rules for this at the time, and he was reprimanded by Major League Baseball for his decision, as instant replay would only be formally introduced until 2008.

Pulli was one of the umpires who handed his resignation as part of a failed negotiating ploy late in the 1999 season. Contrary to most of the resigning umpires who eventually returned to the majors, Pulli decided to formally retire when the dust settled in 2002, accepting back pay and benefits for the seasons he had missed.

After his retirement, Pulli’s experience as an umpire was instrumental in baseball’s use of the QuesTec, an advanced technology that allowed baseball to observe and grade the home plate umpire’s ability to call balls and strikes. Many umpires, including Ted Barrett, believed that the use of the technology dramatically changed the way umpires judged the strike zone and that he, and others, adjusted their calls to the technology. In Bruce Weber’s 2009 book on umpiring, Barrett claimed that Pulli would call him after games and encourage him to shrink his strike zone after watching Barrett call pitches several inches off the plate as strikes.

He developed Parkinson's disease in later life and passed away in 2013, at age 78 in Palm Harbor, FL, where he had long made his off-season home.

(excerpted from New York Times, BR Bullpen & Wikipedia)


Image Courtesy of the LA Times
TSN Umpire Card courtesy of Retrosheet.org



Frank is also part of the Umpires Tour – Go to the Next Stop

View all Frank’s baseball cards at TCDB

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