Former ASA UIC great Tom Mason Sr. has passed
Mason made a difference to ASA umpiring program
By Bill Plummer
Throughout its history, the Amateur Softball Association has had people
who've made a difference. Tom Mason Sr. was one of those persons who
made a difference, a big difference indeed. Mason passed away Monday,
Dec. 15. He was 83-years-old.
Mason officiated basketball and football, but he made a major impact on
softball through his association with the Amateur Softball Association
and left behind a legacy of outstanding work.
In May 1967, then ASA UIC George Dickstein announced the newly created
national deputy umpire-in-chief position, naming four men to the
position. One of them was Mason. Four years later, Dickstein visited
Mason at the Men's Major Industrial Slow Pitch Championship in York, Pa.
Dickstein was not known as someone who would fraternize with his
subordinates, but Dickstein asked Mason to go to a midnight breakfast
after the last game and met Tom at the ball park Sunday morning.
Dickstein said he wasn't feeling good and told Mason he decided to go
home a day early.
The next time Mason saw Dickstein was at his funeral a few days later.
Dickstein passed away Sept. 5 at age 63.
With the passing of Dickstein, the 1972 annual meeting in Hawaii would
address replacing Dickstein, who had served the ASA as UIC and rules
interpreter for the Joint Rules Committee on Softball. The Northwest
Region nominated Mason for the position with 12 people on the ballot to
replace Dickstein. After three ballots, the final ballot was between
Mason and Bernie Iassogna, assistant rules interpreter for the
International Joint Rules Committee on Softball. Because of the two
positions Dickstein held Mason was named national UIC and Iassogna rules
interpreter. In 1973, Mason replaced Iassogna as rules interpreter but
kept Bernie on his staff of national deputies with Frank Susor, Ron Derr
and Paul Brown.
Mason and Dickstein were as different as night and day. Dickstein loved
to be in charge and the umpires who worked for him knew that from the
outset. Some would say Dickstein could be overbearing and had an ego,
but his accomplishments are not to be diminished considering the umpire
program had its growing pains in those early years. Dickstein was
inducted into the ASA Hall of Fame in 1976. He was named UIC in 1949 and
international rules interpreter in 1955.
Mason was down-to-earth, easy to talk to and an accomplished clinician
who traveled the world giving clinics and helping develop the ASA
umpiring brand. And he did this while still working a full-time job at
DuPont. Mason served as the ASA UIC and rules interpreter for nine years
before the ASA decided to make the UIC position a full-time position at
the ASA National Office in Oklahoma City. The late Merle O. Butler was
named to succeed Mason.
Mason helped develop the ASA umpiring brand during his nine years and he
became the face of the ASA umpiring program. He conducted 280 clinics in
35 states and supervised clinics in seven foreign countries. Years later
his work was recognized nationally by REFEREE magazine, the only
national magazine for sports officials. In 1996 REFEREE named Tom as one
of the top 20 officials in the country who influenced their sport over
the past 20 years. In 2005 they recognized Tom as one of the top 25
"Great Officials" for his contribution to softball umpiring. In 2007,
Tom was again honored as one of the top 57 officials "Who Made
Mason was a man of class and integrity and certainly made a difference
to the ASA umpiring program. He was one of a kind and will be dearly
missed by many, many people. Certainly by his beloved family, but by the
many umpires he influenced and helped during his outstanding career.