Pinelli started in baseball as a ML third baseman, twice batting over .300 as a member of the Reds. In 1924 the 5’9″ speedster stole 24 bases for Cincinnati. He once caught veterans Sam Rice and Stuffy McInnis with the “hidden-ball trick” over a span of four days in 1920.
Pinelli became one of baseball’s best-known and most respected umpires and had a “soft thumb,” less likely than most to throw players or managers out of games. His final ML game was as the plate umpire for Don Larsen‘s perfect game in the 1956 WS. He called a third strike against pinch hitter Dale Mitchell for the final out. Pinelli claimed that he did not miss a single regulation game in his 22 years as an NL umpire.