Dave Pallone, the National League umpire who was involved in the shoving incident that led to the 30-day suspension of Cincinnati Reds Manager Pete Rose earlier this season, has worked his last game in 1988.
The question is: Will he be back in the National League in 1989?
The situation was not clear Monday night, when the Associated Press reported that Pallone had resigned under league pressure.
Katy Feeney, the league's director of media affairs, denied the report, saying that Pallone cited personal reasons when he asked for a leave of absence last Thursday and that it was granted by NL President A. Bartlett Giamatti.
Mark Hirschbeck, a minor league umpire under option to the National League, will replace Pallone for the rest of the season.
Pallone, 37, who lives in New York, could not be reached for comment.
He was one of 8 minor league umpires who joined the National League staff during the 1979 umpires' strike and has, in large measure, remained ostracized, having been refused membership in the umpires' union.
Union counsel Richie Phillips, reached at his Philadelphia home Monday night, said he was told by Giamatti Friday that Pallone had asked for a leave of absence.
"Since he's not a member of the union, I didn't see any reason to delve into it further," Phillips said. "If he were to ask for representation, we would be required to provide it under the labor laws. I really don't know anything more than that."
A veteran National League umpire who asked for anonymity said he had talked to several colleagues Monday night, including Ed Vargo, the league's supervisor of umpires, and that all anyone seemed to know was that Pallone had asked for a leave.
The AP reported that Pallone was told by the league office that he could resign now or be fired when the season ends.
The report said that Pallone would be subject to review at the end of the season and either had to be fired or given tenure.
But spokeswoman Feeney pointed out that all umpires are reviewed at the end of each season. Each, basically, is rehired on an annual basis. There is no such thing as tenure in the collective bargaining agreement, the umpires having given it up in the 1979 negotiations.
In addition, the AP report said that Pallone had acknowledged gambling debts of more than $1,000, though he denied ever betting on baseball.
"As far as I know," Phillips said, "that was back in 1977-78. That was 10 years ago. That's all been hashed through before."
It was on April 30 in Cincinnati that Pallone made a late call at first base, permitting, in Rose's view, the New York Mets to score what proved to be the winning run.
Rose and Pallone engaged in a finger-pointing argument that eventually resulted in Rose's 30-day suspension. Rose insisted that Pallone created the initial contact, scraping his face with a finger.
Pallone has also been involved in a series of incidents with Red infielder Dave Concepcion that suggest he has carried a grudge. He also reportedly told relief pitcher Jeff Reardon, then of the Montreal Expos, "I'll bury you." Pallone has denied that.