Major League Baseball lost a legend on Sunday with the passing of former umpire Steve Palermo. MLB confirmed his death with a statement from commissioner Rob Manfred on Sunday.
“Steve Palermo was a mighty umpire, a gifted communicator and a widely respected baseball official, known in our sport for his leadership and courage,” Manfred said via an MLB release. “He had an exceptional impact on both his fellow Major League Umpires and baseball fans, who benefited from his ability to justify the rules of our game. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to Steve’s wife Debbie, the World Umpires organization and his many friends and admirers throughout the game.”
While Palermo commanded respect on the field and worked his way into much of the game’s recent history, his most essential act came far absent from the ballpark. In July of 1991, Palermo ran to relieve two waitresses who were being mugged when he was shot in the back, nearly costing him his life.
Palermo wasn’t expected to walk again. Instead, with the utilize of a cane, Palermo not only walked but was able to rejoin Major League Baseball in 1994 as a special assistant before fitting Umpire Supervisor for the league in 2000.
The Worcester, Mass. native spent his summers as on-field umpire in the American League from 1977 until the shooting in 1991. Along the way he helped call four American League Championship Series and one no-hitter.
Palermo later retired to Kansas City where he still made his presence felt in baseball. The Kansas City Royals made certain Palermo was a portion of their complete-Star Game ceremonies at Kauffman Stadium in 2012.
“The one thing that I’ve proved or learned is that the human spirit and drive and determination, you can’t ever sell that short.” Palermo told MLB.com in 2013. “Had I known then what I know now approximately how much damage was done to my spinal cord, I probably would’ve said, ‘I’m fighting an uphill battle here that just can’t be won. I might as well stay in this wheelchair. But sometimes I believe that’s what drove me, was that, ‘OK, you build this challenge out there for me. You stuck this carrot out on the stick and now I’m going to try to elope it down.’”
Steve Palermo was 67 years archaic.
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