Lest we forget: Frank Pulli

August 30, 2013

The long-time umpire passed away on Wednesday at the age of 78. Here’s the NY Times obit.

Pulli, who began his career in 1972 and served almost 30 years, was the first umpire to “use” video replay technology, according to the Times.

Pulli made baseball history on May 31, 1999, after Florida Marlins outfielder Cliff Floyd, in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals, smashed a line drive that struck the top of the left-field scoreboard and bounced back onto the field.

The second-base umpire, Greg Gibson, initially called the play a double, but the crew changed the ruling to a home run after the Marlins argued. The Cardinals then protested, and Pulli, the crew chief that day, went to their dugout to study a replay on a television camera. The replay showed that the hit was a double. The Cardinals won the game, 5-2.

Though it did not change Pulli’s call, the National League objected to the use of the camera in making it. “Use of the video replay is not an acceptable practice,” the league president, Leonard Coleman, said in a statement. “The integrity of the game requires that judgments be left to on-field personnel.”

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