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Longtime umpire Frank Pulli — pioneer of instant replay — dies

Aug 30, 2013, 12:30 PM EDT

Frank Pulli

Longtime NL umpire Frank Pulli died due to complications from Parkinson’s disease. There’s a look at his life and career over at the New York Times.

One of my favorite things about him was the time he took it upon himself to get a call right by using a cameraman’s replay monitor to change a call of a Cliff Floyd hit from a double to a home run, which was the correct call.  At the time the National League issued a statement saying that Pulli using replay was unacceptable and that “The integrity of the game requires that judgments be left to on-field personnel.” Lost in that statement was that Pulli was “on-field personnel” and was merely doing his best with all of the tools available to him to make the right call.

Now baseball is embarking on replay in which on-field personnel are only supposed to do such things if managers force them to with a challenge flag, effectively cutting off proactive moves like Pulli’s. What a shame.

 

  1. raysfan1 - Aug 30, 2013 at 1:02 PM

    Condolences to Mr Pulli’s family and friends. He was one of the best

    • kathrynedwards643 - Aug 31, 2013 at 3:23 AM

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  2. cur68 - Aug 30, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    Man. Imagine that? Having a quick look at the cable feed to review a call. Probably took under 2 minutes, too. Why Josh Beckett might have thrown one pitch in that time!

    Well a tip of the Beaver Cap for Mr. Pulli: a guy who was clearly prepared to go to a reasonable length to do his job right. MLB will surely miss him and others like him.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Aug 30, 2013 at 6:22 PM

      Condolences indeed to his loved ones. I remember watching that game on TV and, when he used the replay, thinking, “That is sooooo cool, but I bet he gets in trouble for it.” But Craig might have his call wrong, as I think he changed the HR to a double.

  3. greymares - Aug 30, 2013 at 1:46 PM

    I had the good fortune to work with Frank before he decided to go to umpire school. I knew he would be successful . Rest in peace buddy.

  4. DelawarePhilliesFan - Aug 30, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    Leave the lawyer behind today Craig? Replay is right, but Pulli was wrong to do that – how are you going to have rules equally enforced if one crew does one thing, and no other crew does it?

    He may have been a harbinger of things to come, but that was a brain cramp move.

    That said, RIP Mr. Pulli. And condolences to the family

    • chumthumper - Aug 31, 2013 at 9:35 AM

      “….how are you going to have rules equally enforced….”: IMO, no different than ump A having his strike zone and ump B having his.

  5. markcycy - Aug 30, 2013 at 1:52 PM

    i think he just called a 3 rd strike on a 3-2 count that was a foot outside and god was batting. God turned to him and said i am the ultimate replay judge and took first.

  6. danaking - Aug 30, 2013 at 3:34 PM

    PUlli is from a different era of umpires, when they got the job done without making the game about them, but still showed enough individuality that, for a while in the early 80s, I used to be able to tell who was behind the plate merely by watching his call strikes. (Pulli, Doug Harvey, Dutch Rennert are the three I still remember and can imitate, if called upon,. Which almost never happens.)

    • 78mu - Aug 31, 2013 at 7:45 PM

      Rennert was the best. I can’t remember anyone questioning his calls or authority. When he made a strike call it was so forceful you’d look like a wimp arguing it.

      Of course the best thing about some of the old-time umps (I remember Harry Wendelstedt and Augie Donatelli in addition to Puli, Harvey and Rennert) is that while they were easy to notice they knew the game was not about them. They didn’t follow a player to the dugout or try to show up someone for disagreeing with them. Could someone show Joe West how these umpires ran a game?

      And I think Puli changed the call from HR to double like nothanks said. RIP Frank, we’ll miss you.

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