Mar 15, 2015

Former Italian /American Umpire: Frank Pulli (1972-1999)

Frank Victor Pulli was born on March 22, 1935 in Easton Pennsylvania. In high school he played baseball well as basket ball eventually turning to umpiring. 

He began working games in the Mid West, Eastern & International Leagues in the sixties & early seventies. Pulli made it to the major leagues as a National League Umpire by 1972 using the number 14. 
 On April 8th, 1974 he was the first base umpire at Atlanta's Fulton County Stadium in the game where Hank Aaron broke the All Time HR record. Pulli would officiate sic NLCS Series: 1975 / 1979/ 1986/ 1991 / 1993 & 1997. 

In the 1986 NLCS Pulli worked home plate at Shea Stadium in Game #3 where Lenny Dykstra hit a two run walk off HR to beat the Houston Astros & put New York up two games to one. Pulli would officiate four World Series: 1978 / 1983 / 1995 & 1990 where he was the crew chief. 
 In the 1978 World Series blew a major call in the 6th Inning of Game #5. The A.L. New York club's Lou Pinella hit a low liner to Dodger short stop Bill Russell. He dropped the ball then flipped it to second baseman Davey Lopes.

Lopes threw to first base but base runner Reggie Jackson stuck out his hip in order to get hit by the ball. The ball caromed off Jacksons' leg & the runner scored from third base as Steve Garvey argued the call.

Dodger Manager Tommy Lasorda came out to argue as well but the call stood, as L.A. lost the game 5-4 in extra innings. Had the call been corrected, the Dodgers would have won the game & been ahead 3-2 in the Series. 
Pulli also worked the 1977 & 1988 All Star games, being the crew chief in the latter game. In 1993 he was named an NL Umpire chief.

In 1989 he along with Umpire; Rich Garcia was placed on probation by Commissioner Fay Vincent, when it was learned they had placed bets on other sporting events, not baseball.

In 1999, Pulli was the first umpire to use instant replay. In a game in Florida between the Marlins & the St. Louis Cardinals, Cliff Floyd had hit a ball near the yellow line on the outfield wall. The play was first ruled a HR but then Pulli used a television monitor to review the play. He reversed the call to a double & the Cards won the game 5-2. 

The play caused a lot of attention, & the NL Office ruled the umpires erred in using Instant Replay. Instant Replay would not be used in MLB again for almost ten years. 

In 1999 he was one of 22 MLB umpires who resigned, because they were unable to strike due to an earlier labor agreement. MLB accepted the resignations, hiring back just 13 of the 22. Pulli was not one, but was allowed to retire. He was later hired back as an umpire supervisor.

Pulli retired at the end of the 1999 season completing 28 years of MLB umpiring. In 2000 he was named an umpire supervisor served as a liaison between the umpires & the league until 2008.

Pulli passed away at his home in Palm Harbor, Florida, from complications of Parkinson's disease in August of 2013, he was 78.

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