Steve Palermo — umpire, hero — passes away at age 67

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Major League Baseball has announced that retired umpire Steve Palermo has passed away at the age of 67.

Palermo broke into the majors as an ump late in the 1976 season and was a full-time umpire through the middle of the 1991 season. On July 7 of that year his on-field career was cut short, however, when he was shot in the back while he and fellow umpire Rich Garcia intervened to stop a mugging of two waitresses outside a restaurant near Dallas following a Texas Rangers game. It was an act that would define his life and legacy.

Palermo sustained a bullet wound to his spinal cord, paralyzing him from the waist down. While it was first thought he would never walk again, just over three months later he threw out the first pitch at a World Series game with the aid of a cane and leg braces. He would later serve as supervisor of major league umpires, worked as a motivational speaker and did some pregame TV work for the New York Yankees, in addition to charitable work and further ceremonial duties with Major League Baseball.

Our thoughts go out to Palermo’s family, friends and loved ones.