New Castle News

Most Popular on our Site

November 14, 2012

Fats and 50: Cubellis’ golden years of officiating have been a sweet ride

NEW CASTLE — A piece of candy, a Pepsi and a smile.

New friends have gotten the same routine from the Rev. Fats Cubellis for more than 50 years.

“My mom and dad had 16 kids,” Cubellis said. “We had nothing. When I say nothing, we had nothing. That’s why I give kids candy, because there might be a kid out there that might be going through the same things I went through. I gave candy when I taught school, I give candy when I referee and I’m a minister and I give it in church.”

Cubellis was honored by the PIAA in August for his more than 50 years of service in officiating high school sports. A plaque recognizing his accomplishment will be displayed in the PIAA Officials’ Hall of Honor and Recognition.

“I was shocked when they sent the letter,” Cubellis said. “I didn’t know they did that.”

A not-so-shocking achievement for a man who began his career in 1956. After a stint in the army, he started to officiate baseball games at Dean Park on Taylor Street in New Castle.   

“My first three years, I umpired there,” Cubellis said. “They still play little league baseball there. I was there for six years, two dollars a game. My first high school football game was five bucks. Today, they’re making 70 bucks.”

Cubellis, the starting quarterback for the New Castle football team in 1953, has a career of memorable moments and highlights, including officiating 10 playoff games in one season. Of all the games and sports he has officiated, which include baseball, softball, football, volleyball and basketball, Cubellis says he prefers a particular athlete more than the others.

 “Maybe I might be partial, but I enjoy the girls more,” he said with a chuckle. “In my opinion, they have more manners. I’m not saying the boys don’t. You’ll never hear a girl say that you blew the call. The kids are all good to me.

“Recently, I went up and watched Shenango play against Laurel in volleyball. One of the girls from Shenango, I don’t even know her, she comes over and sits right next to me and kisses me on the cheek. Right away I tell her she can’t do that. She asks me ‘why not?’ I tell her if I’m here to referee and the other team sees that, they’ll think I’m going to cheat for them.”

Not surprisingly, Cubellis says volleyball is his favorite sport to officiate these days.

Along with an officiating career that includes nine years in college basketball, Cubellis is a retired educator, spending 37 years teaching social studies to students, with seven years spent at St. Mary’s in New Castle. One of his favorite memories of the school was after a Christmas party.

“One Christmas party at St. Mary’s, we had six cases of Pepsi left over from a little kid that brought them in,” he said. “I asked him who those Pepsis were for, and he said they were for me. I’m a Pepsi freak. I used to drink a case of 12 cans a day.”

Cubellis not only is a teacher in the classroom, but on the playing field, a mentor to colleagues like his friend and neighbor, Joe Palmiro. The two have officiated mostly basketball games together, including 14-straight years of the championship game in the Grove City basketball tournament.

“Fats was my mentor,” Palmiro said. “When I didn’t have a game to officiate, every night I’d ride with Fats and watch him officiate. He helped a lot of young officials.”

 “As far as Fats’ officiating, he’s a very honest official,” he continued.

“He gave you 100 percent when he was on the court. He has a good relationship with all the players.”

Cubellis also has been a minister for 24 years. He currently assists Wayside Emmanuel Church in New Castle.

“I give the Lord all the credit,” Cubellis said. “I pray before I referee. I pray after the game. I pray that everyone is safe on the ride to the stadium and back.”

One of the greatest joys in Cubellis’ life is the amount of friendly greetings and memories he receives from parents, children and athletes he has encountered. A unique name like “Fats” has made him a local celebrity, and certainly has helped those to remember him. Cubellis’ birth name was Frank.

“When I was born, somebody gave me the nickname of ‘Fat’,” Cubellis said. “I don’t know who put an ‘s’ on the end. In 1979, I paid $50 at the courthouse and had it added to my regular name, so that’s what I go by. That’s my real name. I don’t know how I got it, but I love my name. I love it.”

Now at the age of 78, Cubellis doesn’t see an end to his officiating career in sight. He umpired 42 baseball games this past summer and plans on officiating middle school girls basketball this winter.

He’s had a few pitfalls along the way, including the death of his son, Frank, two years ago, that made him contemplate retiring, but a strong backlash from his biggest supporters put an end to that thought.

“I was up in Neshannock to do a colt baseball game this past summer, and it was the third inning,” he recalled. “A kid from New Castle came up to bat. I put on my mask and I was ready to go behind the catcher. I said to him that this was probably going to be my last year, I think I’m giving up. Two kids, the one catching and the one batting, chewed me out. They said ‘no, you’re not going to quit,’ and they made sure. That gave me goosebumps. It wants me to keep going. If I stopped completely, I think I would drop dead. You can’t do something for 50-something years and quit.”

(Email: a_petyak@ncnewsonline.com).

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Most Popular on our Site
  • Warner.jpg Replica of first Warner theater set for downtown

    A replica of the first Warner brothers theater is expected to open in February at Cascade Center at the Riverplex A partnership has been reached between Jerry Kern, president of Warner Film Center, and Dr. Andrew Matta, chief executive officer of Refresh Dental Partners.

    April 4, 2013 1 Photo

  • Hooker.tiff Hooker's dunk earns ESPN Top 10 spot

    Wow! That was the collective response among the more than 2,000 who crammed into Williamsport High last night.

    March 20, 2013 1 Photo

  • Jaleesa.jpg March Madness: Former Lady ’Canes’ star battling illness head-on

    Jaleesa Sams knew something was terribly wrong. But the former New Castle High School and North Carolina A&T basketball star prides herself in having a high tolerance for pain. Even when she was throwing up and too fatigued to get off the couch, Sams was determined to tough it out.

    March 19, 2013 1 Photo

  • school.jpg Education Options, Part 2: Current shale boom casts new light on county’s economic future

    Second of two parts: Welcome to the Industrial Revolution of 2013. The Marcellus Shale phenomenon has arrived with the promise of jobs and prosperity for an area in dire need of just such a miracle.

    February 25, 2013 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • Ben.tiff Big Ben announces K-9 grant for New Castle

    New Castle’s police department has received a grant from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation to add to its K-9 unit. The $8,000 grant will be used to buy a dog, either trained or untrained, and a safety vest for the canine. If the dog requires training, the grant covers that cost.

    February 9, 2013 1 Photo

  • Kola4.jpg Photos, Story: Lost dog finds way back home, thanks to good Samaritan

    Joe Henry had all but given up. For three days he searched for Kola, the beloved 15-year-old shepherd/labrador retriever mix that he had raised from a puppy.

    February 6, 2013 1 Photo 1 Slideshow

  • Rapone.jpg Pro Football: New Castle native Nick Rapone ready for his chance in the NFL

    Thirty years ago, almost to the day, Nick Rapone got a call from Bruce Arians. “Hey, Nick,” Arians said to his old college football teammate, “Let’s go to Temple.” And so Rapone packed his bags and left East Tennessee State University to begin a journey that came full circle late last week with another phone call and some familiar — not to mention life-changing — words from his fellow Virginia Tech alumni.

    January 23, 2013 1 Photo

  • YDC.jpg YDC Closing: More than 200 employees will be affected by state’s decision

    The New Castle Youth Development Center is closing. Gov. Tom Corbett announced Tuesday the facility, in operation for approximately 45 years off Frew Mill Road in Shenango Township, will close Feb. 15.

    January 16, 2013 1 Photo

  • money.jpg Donor gives a record $7 million to Westminster College

    Westminster College has received the largest gift in its 160-year history. The school is the beneficiary of a $7 million bequest from Helen Louise Lemmon. The gift will be used to endow The Lemmon Family Scholarship for students seeking careers in the sciences.

    January 9, 2013 1 Photo

  • money.jpg Your Tax Money: Salary board gives county employees raises

    Voting to give the raises at Monday’s board meeting were the three commissioners — Dan Vogler, Steve Craig and Bob Del Signore — and Controller David Gettings. President Judge Dominick Motto cast the fifth vote for matters concerning the courts.
     

    January 8, 2013 1 Photo 1 Story

House Ads
Poll

Beginning tonight, the Pittsburgh Penguins will take on the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round of the NHL playoffs. So, who ya got? And in how many games?

Penguins, in five games or fewer. Too much firepower for the Blue Jackets, especially if Evgeni Malkin is ready to go.
Penguins, in six or seven games. It’s a pretty even matchup on defense, but Pittsburgh will grind it out.
Blue Jackets, in five games or fewer. Sergei Bobrovsky in goal for the Blue Jackets spells trouble for the Pens.
Blue Jackets, in six or seven games. Bobrovsky gives Columbus the edge, but it won’t be easy.
     View Results