Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Steve Palermo - Umpire

From the time he began his career as an American League umpire in 1977, Steve Palermo was widely regarded as one of the best umpires in the game.

In 15 years on the field, he brought a boundless energy and enthusiasm to a game that he loved. His career highlights include two of the most famous games in New York Yankees history. In 1978, he worked the Yankees one-game playoff against the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park to determine the Eastern Division winner. In fact, it was Palermo, serving as the third base umpire, who signaled "fair ball" when Bucky Dent hit the game-winning home run. On July 4, 1978 he worked behind the plate for Dave Righetti's no-hitter against the Red Sox at Yankees Stadium.

His career as an umpire also includes the 1983 World Series, four American League Championship Series (1980, 1982, 1984 and 1989) and the 1986 All-Star Game. In August 1991, The Sporting News ranked Steve Number 1 among American League umpires for overall performance.

In early July, 1991, it seemed that Palermo's umpire career might have ended, but everyone knows it is difficult to win an argument with an umpire and he refuses to lose this one. On July 7, 1991, Steve and several friends were dining after a Texas Rangers game when they were alerted that two waitresses were being mugged in the parking lot. In an attempt to apprehend the assailants, Steve suffered a bullet wound to his spinal cord, resulting in instant paralysis to the lower extremities. Doctors told Steve and his wife that he would probably never walk again. Yet through rehabilitation and a lot of determination, Palermo is winning his argument...he is walking with the use of one small leg brace and cane and has returned to the game he loves so much, albeit, in a different capacity.

Following his injury, in addition to his daily rehabilitation work and accepting over 25 awards for courage and dedication, including the 1994 Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPY's, Palermo has taken his unique perspective of the game to the broadcast booth.

In 1992, the articulate and candid native of Worchester, MA began his broadcasting career by calling some of the Seattle Mariners baseball games. In 1994, Steve was named Special Assistant to Major League Baseball's Executive Council. In addition to his work with Major League Baseball, he is providing feature reports and serving as a color analyst for Madison Square Garden, the cable network for the New York Yankees.

On December 1, 1992, the Steve Palermo Foundation for Spinal Cord Injuries formally opened its doors. The Foundation was formed to fund research for the discovery of a cure for paralysis and the devastation it causes while also providing hope and support to those with spinal cord injuries and their families...helping them get "one step closer to home."

On January 1, 1995, the Steve Palermo Foundation for Spinal Cord Injuries merged with the Kent Waldrep National Paralysis Foundation becoming the Steve Palermo Chapter/National Paralysis Foundation. Both families firmly believe that the consolidation of these two organizations will be a step forward in bringing the issue of paralysis to the national forefront. The same drive and dedication that returned Palermo to his feet will fuel the efforts of this Chapter and Foundation to aid in the discovery of a cure for paralysis.

Steve and his wife, Debbie, currently reside in Overland Park, Kansas.

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