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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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Payne, a slight-looking man with glasses, was glad to see Frank. For five minutes they discussed the old days at Killingly High. Payne was in the class below Frank and recalled the thrill of traveling to Storrs, Conn, to watch Frank and Tony Dascoli win the state basketball championship for Killingly.

As Dascoli rose to leave Bob Payne announced suddenly, "I would like to say something. This great honor that has come to Frank has not affected him one bit up here." He touched his head. Dascoli beamed. "Thank you for those words, Bob," he said.

In his car Frank toured the Connecticut countryside and then headed back home. On the way he passed some of the town's finer houses.

"We used to live in a nice house," he said. "Then the family deteriorated all at once. Mike, my younger brother, went into the Air Force; Tony got married; I went into baseball. Now my father, mother and I live in an apartment."

At the Dascolis' apartment Mrs. Dascoli was preparing dinner. Frank, sitting in his room, thumbed through the National League Umpire's Handbook. On the cover was a motto: "Quick to think, slow to anger." Inside there was another: "Keep the game, the players and YOURSELF UNDER CONTROL."

On the bureau were some autographed baseballs. There were pictures on the walls: Frank making a call, Frank with players, Frank with other umpires. There was one showing a youthful Frank standing next to a car bearing the Connecticut license plate: UMP.

"I got those plates on my car when I first became a major league umpire," he explained. "But I had to get rid of them. Kids kept dropping dirt and pebbles down my gas tank.

"The umpire's job is tough enough, but what makes it even harder is the basic lack of respect for authority that exists in the world today. Take teachers. When I was a kid, if there was trouble between the teacher and the pupil the parent backed up the teacher. Today he backs up his kid. 'It can't be my kid's fault,' he says. No respect for authority. People don't respect policemen or even, in many places, the government. So when they come out to the ball park, why should they respect the umpire?

"The booing and abuse used to get me down. It's no fun having people laugh when you get hit by a line drive or a foul tip. It's discouraging to have guys yelling at you for nine innings. But you get so you can take it.

"I know they make fun of me. They think I'm a showboat. Well, when I'm on the field, I don't care what they call me just as long as they add, 'But he's a good umpire.' "

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