Frank Shea officiated football, basketball and softball in Delaware for more than half a century. He began refereeing basketball games at the YMCA as a teenager in the late 1940s near his birthplace of Blackstone, Mass. Some 50 years later, Shea would become the first recipient of a special whistle – the Frank Shea Gold Whistle Award for his five decades of service to the Northern Delaware Football Officials Association.
Shea will be inducted into the Delaware Sports Museum and Hall of Fame on Thursday night at a ceremony at the Chase Center on the Riverfront.
After leaving the field in 1997, Shea moved to the press box, where he was a timer. His colleagues called him the “Doctor of Clockology.” He returned to the field briefly in 2001 at age 72 to referee the Blue-Gold All-Star football game, the 12th time he worked the charity classic. The next summer at the National Football Officials Association banquet, Shea was honored as the National Distinguished Official of the Year, the first Delawarean to win the award.
Shea was a charter member of the organizing committee when the Delaware high school football tournament began in 1971, serving on the committee for 36 years. In 1982, he developed the officials’ association’s training materials and guidelines for rules and on-field mechanics, the bulk of which are still in place.