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The Umpire: GENIUS OR SHOWBOAT?
Walter Bingham
April 13, 1959
Frank Dascoli has been criticized and laughed at, but nearly everyone admits he is the best umpire in the National League
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April 13, 1959

The Umpire: Genius Or Showboat?

Frank Dascoli has been criticized and laughed at, but nearly everyone admits he is the best umpire in the National League

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"We might as well start," he said.

For the next hour and 20 minutes, while the businessmen ate their crab meat, lobster and chocolate ice cream, Frank Dascoli discussed baseball. He leaned back in his chair. He leaned forward. Sometimes, for emphasis, he rammed his large forefinger into the white tablecloth. His voice grew as the minutes passed. Occasionally there would be a question: "How good is George Witt?" or "How is Frank Robinson's arm?" But mostly they remained silent and listened, fascinated, like boy scouts before the scoutmaster. Dascoli dominated the room.

Finally, Lyonel Putnam produced his watch and said, "Gentlemen, it's time to return to work." The businessmen shook hands with Frank and left. "That was a lot of fun," said Putnam. "You know, we all look forward to this every year. Thank you." Putnam departed.

Readying to leave, Frank Dascoli pointed to where the businessmen had been sitting. "They're pretty good Joes, aren't they? You know, I've been in their homes."

Downstairs, Dascoli took one more look around the club, then pushed outside into the cold.

The following day Frank Dascoli was in his father's shoeshop in Danielson. On one wall was a sequence shot of the disputed Campanella play.

"You'll notice," pointed out Frank, "that the throw is off to the right. Campy had to reach out and then back." Dascoli laughed. "My mother doesn't understand baseball. The day after that play she said to someone, 'I don't know what Frank did, but it must have been something wonderful. His picture has been in all the papers.'

"I'll tell you how tough a job an umpire has. When I got back home that year a guy comes up to me and says, 'Frank, you blew that call. I saw it. I was 10 feet away.' I asked the guy how he could have been sitting 10 feet away when the box seats were at least 40 feet away? 'I was watching on television,' the guy says."

Dascoli put on his overcoat. "Come on," he said, "I'll show you around the town and introduce you to some people. Don't worry about your car. The police chief is a friend of mine."

Frank stopped in front of an old building. "I want you to meet Bob Payne, Superintendent of Schools."

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