Little League® International mourns the passing of Steve Palermo, former Major League Baseball (MLB) Umpire and recipient of Little League International’s William A. “Bill” Shea Little League Distinguished Graduate Award in 1992. He was 67.
Born in Worcester, Mass., and raised in nearby Oxford, Mr. Palermo played Little League Baseball® for Oxford (Mass.) Little League. He went on to be a standout baseball and basketball player at Oxford High School before attending Leicester Junior College, Norwich University, and Worcester State where he studied education. After being a volunteer Little League umpire, many suggested he pursue umpiring at a higher level, and he graduated from the MLB Umpire Development Program in 1972.
During his time as an MLB umpire, Mr. Palermo was known as a gifted communicator. He served as a full-time umpire in the American League from 1977 to 1991. He worked the 1983 World Series, the 1986 All-Star Game, and four American League Championship Series, as well as a no-hitter in 1983, and a one-game playoff between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox in 1978.
His career on the field was cut short when, in July 1991, he came to the aid of two restaurant workers who were being mugged and suffered a gunshot wound. Mr. Palermo was told he would never walk again. He defied the odds, however, walking with the aid of a cane and throwing out the first pitch at the 1991 MLB World Series.
The following August, he was recognized by Little League International with the William A. “Bill” Shea Little League Distinguished Graduate Award which is presented to a former Little Leaguer® in Major League Baseball who best exemplifies the spirit of Little League. In 2005, he served as honorary commissioner for the “Little League Tee Ball on The South Lawn” program at the White House, hosted by Little League graduate and former President George W. Bush.
He served as an umpire supervisor for the MLB from 2000 until his death. He was also a motivational speaker during this time and in 2012 was recognized at the MLB All-Star Game in his hometown of Kansas City, Mo.
Mr. Palermo is survived by his wife of 26 years, Debbie. They had no children.