Palermo throws out ball, but wants to get back to it as 0...

Orioles notebook

April 30, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

Palermo throws out ball, but wants to get back to it as 0) umpire

Steve Palermo, an American League umpire who was partially paralyzed in a shooting incident almost two years ago, threw out the first ball before last night's game between the Orioles and the Minnesota Twins.

It was the first visit to Oriole Park for Palermo, who was injured July 6, 1991, while attempting to catch a robbery suspect in Arlington, Texas.

Although originally told that his spinal cord injury would prevent him from walking again, Palermo moved well last night, aided by a pair of walking canes. Palermo, who broke into the major leagues in 1977, vows that he will return to the playing field.

"They [doctors] don't make any more prognosis," said Palermo.

"They missed on the first one, so they don't make any more.

"But baseball was taken away from me, and I want it back. I don't know how long it will take. I don't care if it takes five years. If I come back and umpire one game and don't want to do it anymore, fine. But I want to leave on my terms, not somebody else's.

"One thing I learned from this, about baseball and life, is never take anything for granted," said Palermo. "I'm part of the greatest game ever invented, and I didn't take it for granted, but I never realized how much I loved it. That's why I'm fighting like I have to get it back."

Palermo, who was accompanied by his wife Debbie, still takes rehabilitation therapy twice a week. "I'd like to do more, but they want me to do less," said Palermo. "But Debbie says she makes that decision -- I do what they say.

"I asked her, 'How about the times you don't want me to do what they say?' She told me, 'Then you do what I say.' I don't think I have a whole lot of input into it."

Palermo, who was greeted warmly by members of both teams, mostof whom had not seen him since the accident, was in the area for a personal appearance.

He was in York, Pa., the night before, giving a motivational speech on behalf of Shadowfax, a company that provides help for physically disabled patients.

Throughout his ordeal, Palermo has remained in remarkably good spirits.

"I don't get depressed," he said. "I don't get down . . . but I get frustrated. A spinal cord injury is like dealing with a ghost."

Chito Martinez's demotion to the Double-A Bowie Baysox on Monday was only the first piece of bad news for the outfielder.

The next night, while playing in a doubleheader for the Baysox at Memorial Stadium, Martinez suffered a torn ligament in his right knee.

Martinez has been placed on the seven-day disabled list by the Baysox, but is expected to be sidelined at least two or three weeks.

Jones released

In other minor-league news, the Orioles announced that they had released right-handed pitcher Stacy Jones, their third-round draft pick in 1988. Jones pitched briefly with the Orioles in 1991, but suffered a shoulder injury later that season while with the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings and never fully recovered.

Baines plans fund-raiser

Orioles designated hitter Harold Baines yesterday announced FTC plans for a benefit for the Kimberly Knopp Pancreas Fund.

The "Harold Baines Baseball Celebration" will be held at the BWI Marriott on June 5 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Baines has invited teammates and members of the Seattle Mariners, who are in town that weekend, to join him in an autograph session.

The event also will feature card dealers, games, a live and silent auction and other forms of entertainment. Admission is $3, with children under 6 admitted free.

Proceeds will go to the fund for Knopp, a 30-year-old diabetic who is awaiting a life-saving pancreas transplant operation.

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