SI Vault
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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I would like to make a statement," said Frank Dascoli, rising to his full height of 6 feet 3 inches. Dascoli, a fierce-looking man, well over 200 pounds, with thinning black hair, dark eyes and heavy brows, began pacing the floor, his long, thick forefinger waggling in the air as he spoke. Mr. Dascoli is an umpire.

"You can quote me on this. Your magazine has been very unfair to me in the past. During the Bobby Bragan incident two years ago, you made me look like the villain. No one came to me and asked for my side of the story. Then you printed that umpires' score card showing how many players we'd thrown out of games.

"Now write this down," Dascoli shouted. "Baseball is a professional business. Men make their living at it. Naturally they'll react to an adverse decision. But profane language, showmanship and overprotesting I will not condone. Absolutely not! Strict control of the game, that is 65% of umpiring. Ballplayers respect an umpire who has control of the game. Once a player knows who is boss out there, there's no trouble."

Dascoli's voice was now a roar. "I'm going to tell you something," he went on. "The names at the top of that score card of yours are the guys who are working. The others are just along for the ride. If Bill Klem were around, he'd lead that list. That's why that score card of yours is unfair. You realize this now."

Having finished for the moment, Dascoli sank down in his chair and took a deep breath through tightly clenched teeth. Then he smiled and said softly, "We don't like to eject players. We only wait to use it in the final analysis."

Dascoli's dedication to "control of the game" has made him a controversial figure. Bobby Bragan, who once offered Dascoli and his team of umpires a sip of orange soda during a game, complained that Dascoli was quick to anger, especially in his case. Others agree. "He's looking for trouble," complains one general manager. Says another critic, "Frank Dascoli has no sense of humor about the job. It's all meat and potatoes to him. He is that master of the majestic thumb-out. He looks like he was posing for a statue. He seems ready, willing, even anxious, to throw you out."

Because his style is flamboyant, Dascoli takes an unmerciful riding from the dugout. Hot dog, showboat, rabbit ears and hi ho Silver are some of the more gentle—and printable-barbs yelled his way.

Hi ho Silver stems from a story that Dascoli, at a party Leo Durocher gave in Arizona a few years ago, spent 20 minutes trying to persuade Gary Cooper to give him a part in his next western. He failed.

Eddie Mathews, Milwaukee's third baseman, tells of the 1957 All-Star Game, when Dascoli was working third base. After a particularly bad call at the plate, Dascoli was heard to announce, "Well, they can't all be Dascolis."

The very mention of Dascoli's name brought one National League publicity man to his feet.

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