Earl “Yogi” Strom

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Earl “Yogi” Strom
Basketball • Pottstown

Earl “Yogi” Strom was born and went to school in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. He played football, basketball and baseball for Pottstown High School in the old Ches-Mont League.

After high school, in 1945, he joined the United States Coast Guard. He later went to Pierce Junior College where he graduated in 1951.

He played basketball for various semi-pro teams and began a career with General Electric in 1956. His path to a career as a professional basketball official is described as follows: “Look, you’re not much of a player, and you’ve got a pretty good mouth on you, so why don’t you think about taking up refereeing?” This was part of an argument Strom had with an official in a semi-pro game. He took the advice and began his officiating career. He officiated high school games for nine years and college games in the ECAC for three.

Earl Strom accepted an invitation to join the NBA from “Jocko Collins”, the NBA Director of Officials in 1957. By his third year, he was a top tier referee. He served as an NBA official from 1957-69, the ABA from 1969-72, and back to the NBA from 1973-91. He refereed more than 2400 games, 295 playoff games, 7 All-Star games, plus 29 NBA and ABA finals. Earl’s career was one of controversy and greatness. Many coaches and players considered him the best.

For most of his life, Earl “Yogi” Strom lived in North Coventry Township with his wife Yvonne and their five children. Upon retirement in 1990, he wrote the book Calling the Shots: My Five Decades in the NBA. He was active in charity events and wrote a column for the Reading Eagle. He died of a malignant brain tumor on July 10, 1994. He is the Pottstown High School Hall of Fame and in 1995, was elected posthumously to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

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