A day after the stunning news of the death former American League umpire Steve Palermo, the memories flowed for Royals legend George Brett.
Their careers overlapped. Brett played from 1973-93, and Palermo, a Kansas City resident who died of cancer last week, called American League games form 1976-91.
Brett and golfing great Tom Watson gathered Monday to support the Joe McGuff ALS Golf Tournament at the Nicklaus Golf Club at LionsGate and smiled when recalling Palermo.
“Did he ever make a bad call on you?” Watson asked Brett.
“He made a bunch of them,” Brett said with a laugh.
When Brett would argue balls and strikes, he’d get the same response from Palermo.
“He’d say, ‘Shut up and get in the box.’” said Brett, who turned 64 on Monday.
Bang-bang call on the bases that went against Brett?
“Shut up and go sit down,” Brett said.
Brett called Palermo one of the best umpires in his career.
Palermo was one of baseball’s most respected umps. He was behind the plate in the deciding game of the 1983 World Series, and worked the 1986 All-Star Game along with four American League Championship Series.
After his umpiring career ended from a gunshot wound while trying to help a woman during a robbery outside of Dallas restaurant in 1991, Palermo remained in the game in various capacities for Major League Baseball and was a frequent visitor to Royals games.
Palermo’s wife, Debbie, is from Kansas City. When they got married, Palmero, 67, originally from Massachusetts, spent the rest of his life here.
“He was a very respected man and a very, very good friend, and I’m so saddened I never got a chance to say good-bye,” Brett said. “We’re right here in the same town but I didn’t know how serious it was.”