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Earl "Yogi" Strom

As a referee on May 15, 1995
December 15, 1927 in Pottstown, PA
July 10, 1994
180 pounds


High School:
  • Pottstown (PA) High School (graduated 1945)
  • Peirce Junior College (Philadelphia, PA) (graduated 1951)
Refereeing Highlights:
  • High School Official for nine years
  • College Official (ECAC) for three years
  • Professional referee for 32 years (29 NBA seasons, 3 ABA seasons) (1957-90)
  • Retired from the NBA in 1990
  • Officiated in 29 NBA and ABA Finals
  • Refereed all seven games of the 1961 NBA Finals (Boston vs. St. Louis) with Mendy Rudolph, the only time that has ever occurred in the history of the NBA
  • Worked in five of the nine NBA Finals' seventh games that took place during his career
  • Officiated in seven All-Star Games
  • Refereed in 2400 regular-season games
  • Officiated in 295 playoff games
  • NBA Crew Chief (1967, 1968)
  • Considered top official in the NBA by players, coaches, general managers and fans (USA Today and Detroit Free Press polls, 1989-90)
  • Enshrined in Pottstown Sports (May 16, 1984) and Pennsylvania Sports (Oct. 31, 1987) Halls of Fame

Longtime NBA referee Mike Mathis appropriately described Earl Strom's career when he said, "coaches, general managers, owners and players always mentioned Earl as the best." Whether he called a charge on the visiting team that elicited roars of approval from the hometown crowd, or waved off a game-winning shot that would draw jeers and a variety of responses from the fans, Earl Strom never hesitated to call the game the way he saw it. His colorful style and keen ability to control the game with his whistle earned him the nickname "The Pied Piper." Strom's reputation for fairness elicited the respect and admiration of coaches, players and fellow officials through his illustrious 32-year career. Through 29 NBA seasons and three ABA seasons, Strom officiated in 29 NBA and ABA Finals, and some 50 NBA and ABA Final games. In fact, Strom officiated the entire 1961 NBA Finals that saw the Boston Celtics defeat the St. Louis Hawks in five games. Strom, who made his first call in 1957, officiated 2,400 regular season and 295 playoff games. Known as an irascible and cantankerous official, but perhaps the best ever, Strom was selected to referee seven NBA All-Star Games and five games of his era's nine NBA Finals that went the distance (1966, 1969, 1978 1984, 1988). From the moment Earl Strom made his first call in 1957, he elevated his profession with personal interaction, sound judgement, integrity and a true love of the game.


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