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"Look," he said, "I'm Dascoli." He then took a stance behind an imaginary catcher, called an elaborate strike, and began pulling at his sleeves and looking behind him to where the box seats would be. "That's Dascoli," he said. "Always tugging at those sleeves, striking the pose, looking around to see who's looking at him. You should have seen him in Los Angeles last year with all those movie stars around." There was a pause, and then the man added, "He's a hell of an umpire, though."
Ballplayers judge umpires, for the most part, on their work around home plate, and it is here that Dascoli excels. His movements are graceful, made with artistry. As he sets himself for the pitch, he crouches forward at a 45� angle, one leg bent, the other dragged out behind him. One hand rests on each knee. His head is almost parallel with the catcher's ("You want the glove?" catchers have asked him) so that he is never blocked out. As the pitch comes in Dascoli shifts his weight back, weaving with the ball, following it into the catcher's glove. Then he makes his decision.
"Dascoli calls a consistently good game," says one National League player. "Some umpires call consistently bad games, but even that is better than umpires who vary. Then you don't know what to expect. But Dascoli is always good. In fact, the best."
A pitcher's wife adds this thought: "When my husband is pitching, I always listen closely to who's umpiring the plate. If it's Dascoli I know we're in good hands."
Frank Dascoli was born in Canterbury, Conn. in 1913, the second of three sons of Michael and Mary Dascoli. When Frank was 4 the family moved to nearby Danielson, where Michael Dascoli began work in a shoeshop. He is still there today, the town cobbler for over 40 years.
As his sons grew up Michael Dascoli taught them to be gentlemen.
"He was strict," Frank recalls. "He taught us to respect teachers, policemen and our elders. We had to address anyone older than ourselves as mister. If we didn't, we were whipped.
"I can remember when I bought my first felt hat. My father went along with me and helped me pick it out. Then he gave me a 30-minute lecture on when to remove it."
After high school and a year at prep school, Frank began doing recreational work around the Danielson area. Part of the work included umpiring high school and sandlot games at $1 a game. Frank cannot remember throwing anyone out in those days. Although he enjoyed umpiring then, he gave no thought to making it his profession.