It is an honor to be able to speak on behalf of the White House concerning the Tee Ball game that will take place on the South Lawn this Sunday. Anytime that Debbie and I can spend time with the President and Mrs. Bush, it is both a great pleasure and honor. I look forward to answering as many of your questions as possible, so let's get started!
Scott, from Memphis writes:
What are you most looking forward to at the White House Tee Ball game?
I think all of us, meaning the President, Mrs. Bush, Ozzie Smith, Paul Molitor and Andy Pettite are looking forward to our interaction with the players and to marvel at their competitive nature.
David, from Princeton, NJ
I've heard this tee ball game is for kids with disabilities. I have
spina bifida, so I appreciate the President's commitment to the
disabilities community. Where does your interest in disabilities come
Having suffered a spinal cord injury and now walking with a cane, disability has affected my entire life. Prior to my injury, I was very much involved with Special Olympics in my former residence in Connecticut and now in Kansas City.
Tyler, from Tulsa, Oklahoma
Mr. Palermo- How many games have you umpired? and do you have a game
that stands out as being the most memorable? Your friend,
Don't know the exact number of games offhand, but my career spanned the course of 16 years in the Major Leagues and five years in the Minors.
As far as my most memorable game, two come to mind immediately. The 1978 playoff game between the Red Sox and the Yankees where Bucky Dent, who is renowned in New England, hit the infamous homerun that continued Boston's playoff misery.
The second game also involved Yankees vs. Red Sox. I was umpiring behind homeplate when Dave Righetti threw a "no hitter" on July 4th, 1983.
Jim, from New Orleans
What's the toughest thing about being an umpire? Seems to me that it'd
be really tough to make a call when pitches edsge the plate at speeds
over 90 mph
Regarding pitches thrown at that speed, it's coming head on right in front of you so there's not a great fear caused by the velocity. The tough trick is to get a good position to be able to view the ball from the pitchers hand and follow it all the way into the catcher's glove. With a lot of practice in the Minor Leagues, an umpire becomes skilled enough to be able to judge these pitches thrown by Major Leaguers.
Michael, from Dallas writes:
Are there any disputed calls by the umpire in White House Teeball?
Not while I am the Commissioner! I know the President won't have any either because he was a model fan when he was the managing general partner of the Texas Rangers. The President has always had a high regard for the skills and abilities of Major League umpires.
Tom, from Alabama writes:
How did you get the position of Commissioner for White House Tee Ball?
I received a phone call from the White House asking me if I would consider being the Commissioner of a White House Tee Ball game. Having known President and Mrs. Bush personally, this was something that I wanted to do for somebody that I thoroughly admire, totally respect and I am absolutely committed to fulfill whatever he would ask of me.
Scott, from Daytona Beach, FL
Steve, I have heard that most umpires have a second job other than being
a MLB umpire, if so what is your second job?
Actually, it's a full time job. Umpires in the Majors work from March, starting with Spring training, and then go from April, when the season starts, until the end of October when the World Series ends. So, they do work eight months out of the year and when you count all the days worked consecutively - including weekends, holidays, etc. - the work schedule equals the national workforce. In the off-season, we work to stay in shape and many instruct at umpire schools.
Lexi, from Maui, Hawaii
I am a Huge Nationals fan sicne we dont have a team out here and I just
wanted to know if you see The Nationals going all the way.
That's a long distance fan! They have as good a chance, if not better, than any team in that division. The Nats have shown throughout the first half of the season that they are a team to be reckoned with all the way until October 2nd, the last day of the regular season.
Neda, from Hackensack, New Jersey
Mr. Palermo, What was your favorite Major League city to umpire in?
Without trying to avoid your question, I enjoyed just about every town in the American League and I enjoyed umpiring in just about every ballpark. As an umpire, traveling continually throughout the baseball season to all of these cities, it's what you make of it personally that makes each town special.
Lenny, from Springfield writes:
What do you believe is the most significant event in baseball history?
In my mind, the day that Jackie Robinson entered the Major Leagues which was the day that the color barrier was broken, was one of the most significant moments in all of baseball.
Sorry that I have to "write and run" but I have a game that I have to supervise tonight. Debbie and I look forward to Sunday's Tee Ball game with great anticipation and are humbled to be around the President, the First Lady and these wonderful, inspiring athletes.