Published August 29, 2013
PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Longtime major league umpire Frank Pulli, who used instant replay to make a call nearly a decade before video reviews were allowed, has died. He was 78.
Major League Baseball said Pulli died Wednesday in Palm Harbor, Fla., from complications of Parkinson's disease.
Pulli umpired in the National League from 1972-99 and worked four World Series, six NL championship series and two All-Star games.
In the 1978 World Series between the Yankees and Dodgers, Pulli was involved in a call on the bases involving Reggie Jackson that was hotly disputed by Los Angeles manager Tom Lasorda.
Pulli was among the 22 umpires who lost their jobs in a failed mass resignation. He was an MLB umpire supervisor from 2000-07 and charted pitches, helping umps improve their ball-strike calls.
Many young umpires looked at Pulli as a mentor. He also was a pioneer — not that he intended to be one.
Early in the 1999 season, Cliff Floyd of the Marlins hit a drive against St. Louis that was originally ruled a double. The Marlins argued and Pulli, the crew chief, changed it to a home run.
That drew an argument from the Cardinals, so Pulli decided to check replays on a TV camera near the Marlins' dugout. Pulli then overturned his own call and put Floyd back at second base.
The Marlins filed a protest that was denied by NL president Len Coleman. But Coleman also said Pulli was incorrect to use replay.
In 2008, MLB approved the use of replay on potential home runs.
Pulli was part of another noted play during Game 4 of the 1978 World Series. The Dodgers tried to turn an inning-ending double play in the sixth, but a relay throw by second baseman Davey Lopes glanced off Jackson's leg.
A run scored and Lasorda argued that Jackson should've been out for interference. Pulli was at first base and allowed the play to stand. The Yankees won in 10 innings, and wrapped up the title in six games.
Pulli also was the first base umpire when Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run and broke Babe Ruth's record. For all his games, though, Pulli never worked a no-hitter in the majors.