Major League Baseball announced Sunday that umpire supervisor and former umpire Steve Palermo died after a battle with cancer. He was 67.
"Steve Palermo was a great umpire, a gifted communicator and a widely respected baseball official, known in our sport for his leadership and courage," commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. "He had an exceptional impact on both his fellow major league umpires and baseball fans, who benefited from his ability to explain the rules of our game. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to Steve's wife, Debbie, the World Umpires Association and his many friends and admirers throughout the game."
Palermo began his big-league umpiring career in 1976 and was a full-time umpire from 1977-91. He was forced to retire during the 1991 season when he was shot coming to the aid of two waitresses being mugged in a Texas parking lot. The injury left him paralyzed from the waist down, though after being told he would never walk again he worked his way back to being able to walk with the help of a cane.
Palermo threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Game 1 of the World Series that season.
More from the MLB press release:
In July 2005, Palermo served as honorary commissioner at the White House Tee Ball initiative on the South Lawn, featuring children with physical disabilities. The program was launched by President George W. Bush in 2001 to promote a spirit of teamwork and service for America's youth. Palermo was honored prior to the start of the 2012 All-Star Game in his adopted hometown of Kansas City, where he escorted the Midsummer Classic umpires to home plate.
Since 1991, Palermo has served as an umpire supervisor and motivational speaker. He won the Arthur Ashe Courage Award in 1994.