Frank Pulli, known to his peers as "Ish" passed away this morning after a long battle and complications with Parkinson's disease.
Frank Pulli was a Major League Umpire "and an excellent one" as Hall of Fame Umpire, Doug Harvey (and former partner) would say. A 28 year veteran of the National League, Pulli umpired 3,774 National League games, Four World Series (1978,1983,1990 Crew Chief, and 1995), Six National League Championship Series (1975,1979,1986,1991,1993, and 1997), and Four National League Divisional Series (1981, 1995,1996, and 1998). He worked two All Star games in 1977 and was the Crew Chief in the 1988 Summer Classic.
He started his umpiring in Easton, Pennsylvania where he grew up and in 1968 he worked the final championship game of the VFW Teener League National Championship. He later umpired in the National League (6/20/1977)with the catcher on the losing team of that Championship game.
At graduation from Umpire's School, he finished high on a list of candidates to be put into the minor leagues and within four years the National League purchased his contract from the International League and Frank Victor Pulli became a full time National League Umpire in the spring of 1972.
When Major League Baseball started the Umpire Development Program, Frank was asked by Barney Deary (Director of Umpire Development) to be one of the lead instructors.
Always known for his hustle and great positioning, Frank was an excellent teacher of umpiring. Frank mentored the likes of Jerry Crawford, Ed Montague, Stever Palermo, Richie Garcia, Mike Reilly, Eric Gregg, Joe West, Charlie Williams, Steve Rippley, Drew Coble, Tim McClelland, Angel Hernandez, Steve Rippley, Bob Davidson, Ed Rapuano, Larry Poncino, Tom Hallion, and Greg Bonin.
One of twenty two umpires that were illegally terminated by Major League Baseball in 1999, Frank was awarded his job back with back pay and benefits and even though he never returned to the field he helped numerous umpires in a supervisory capacity with MLB... a compliment to his ability proving that Major League Baseball fired him and the other twenty one to break the union and not because of his or their work.
In 1999 he was the first umpire to look at a replay to try and make sure his decision was correct, in a game between the Marlins and Cardinals. He was criticized by the National League for doing so, but, the very play that he took a look at in 1999 was the first thing Major League Baseball endorsed in their instituting of "Instant Replay."
Frank is survived by his brother Mickey, his wife Kim, and children Vickie, Michael, Michelle, Frank, Jr., Candace, and Nickie.
Frank Victor Pulli, a great brother, husband, teacher, partner, and umpire gone at the age of 78.
Richie Phillips, who helped organize NBA referees and headed the union for Major League Baseball umpires for more than two decades died on Friday. He was 72.
The Philadelphia Inquirer, which first reported his death, said the cause was cardiac arrest.
Phillips, an attorney from Philadelphia, formed NBA referees into a negotiating group in 1976 and helped them win better pay and working conditions.
In 1978 he began a run of more than 20 years as executive director of the Major League Umpires Association, where he helped them make gains in wages and benefits several times until a bargaining strategy in 1999 failed and caused membership to flee the union.
Phillips encouraged umpires to resign in the final month of the 1999 season, but the move backfired when 42 of the 50 umpires who followed his advice had their resignations accepted and were replaced by minor league umps. There were 20 who gained reinstatement but 22 never did and the umpires en masse left Phillips and the MLUA and formed the World Umpires Association.
Hard-driving negotiating tactics were part and parcel for Phillips-led organizations.
The NBA referees won their first improvements in 1976 when they threatened a strike before the playoffs. The baseball umpires had several work stoppages including a seven-week strike in 1979 and a walkout at the start of the 1984 postseason.
Under Phillips, the umpires got pensions and better salaries. The salary of a rookie umpire was $17,500 when he started and at least $95,000 in 2000, after he’d left.
“We got so much because of Richie – pensions, vacations, better salaries,” former ump Don Denkinger told the Associated Press. “He had his feet on the ground and knew what he wanted. He’d keep talking until 6 a.m. if that’s what it took.”