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Resign Now or Be Fired, Pallone Told

September 20, 1988|Associated Press

NEW YORK — Umpire Dave Pallone, who feuded with players and fought with Pete Rose, has resigned from the National League staff under pressure, the Associated Press has learned.

Pallone, who reached the majors in 1979 during a strike by big league umpires, was told by league officials he could either leave now or would be fired at the end of the season, sources close to the situation said.

Pallone umpired his last game Thursday night in Philadelphia. He is not scheduled to work again this year, the league confirmed.

"He has asked for a leave of absence for personal reasons," NL spokeswoman Katy Feeney said. "It was granted by Mr. (league president Bart) Giamatti."

Feeney did not detail the reasons for Pallone's departure. Efforts to contact Pallone, including a note left at his Manhattan residence, were unsuccessful.

Pallone joined the NL staff in April 1979, one of eight minor league umpires to be promoted during a seven-week strike by big league umpires. He never was a member of the umpires' union.

Pallone was subject for review by the league at the end of the season and either had to be rehired and given tenure or released.

During his time in the majors, Pallone was often among the lowest-rated umpires in the NL.

Pallone admitted an ongoing dispute with Cincinnati's Dave Concepcion that began in 1983 and confessed he sometimes tried to block the infielder's view. Last year, Pallone ejected Concepcion for arguing a called strike but later acknowledged, "I missed the pitch."

Pallone also had a disagreement with then-Montreal pitcher Jeff Reardon, who said the umpire threatened to "bury" him. Pallone denied making that remark.

Several years ago, Pallone publicly said he had run up a gambling debt of more than $1,000 while betting on sports events other than baseball. It was never alleged Pallone bet on any baseball games, although his gambling drew concern from baseball officials.

Pallone became embroiled in his biggest controversy during a game April 30 in Cincinnati. His late--albeit correct--"safe" call at first base led to the New York Mets beating the Reds and set off a storm of protest.

Rose, the Reds' manager, charged from the dugout and twice bumped hard into Pallone. Rose said Pallone provoked the incident by poking him in the face, and Cincinnati fans showered the field with debris.

Rose was suspended for 30 days and fined. He appealed, and Giamatti upheld the penalties.

In 1986, Chicago Cubs Manager Gene Michael was suspended for three days after a bumping incident with Pallone. Michael denied touching Pallone.

Pallone, who turns 37 next month, worked his way up through the New York-Penn, Carolina, Eastern and International Leagues. He was brought up to the majors and joined fill-in amateur umpires at the start of the 1979 season.

Pallone was hired by the NL when the strike ended. But, like all of the minor league umpires employed during the strike, he was ostracized by the major league umpires when they came back to work.

Those returning umpires refused to talk to Pallone and the other substitutes and often would not help out on close calls or during arguments, treatment that still exists for those hired in 1979.

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