As word continues to spread about the mission and meaning behind the Protect The Game initiative, more stories surface about men and women who had a heart for service and an eye on the generations coming up next.
Triple Crown Sports began spearheading Protect The Game in 2019; while watching the pool of qualified officials leaving the world of youth sports, TCS saw that returning veterans from military service would be terrific candidates to fill the breach. Training sessions continue as Triple Crown builds its roster of qualified officials, and multiple news outlets have carried the story.
One of those broadcasts caught the eye of Daria Sanks, whose father Phillip Delfino was a coach and umpire in Ohio in a stretch that extended from the late 1960s into the 1980s. Delfino was also a veteran of World War II; he passed away in 2019.
Sanks saw the PTG story on the news right after Father’s Day last year and couldn’t help but be moved by the aspirations of the organization, and the memories of her father’s service.
“He loved baseball, first and foremost. My dad was one of those people from that generation who was very meticulous -- when we were growing up, he’d reiterate that if you’re doing something, don’t do it halfway,” she said. “Do it right, if you’re a brain surgeon or a garbage collector.
“He knew the rules … although there’s a subjective part to (umpiring), he used his encyclopedic knowledge of the rules. If there were changes, he really enjoyed that aspect, and he liked teaching it, too. He liked getting other people excited about it, and got a lot of my friends when we were in high school, when they start training you to be an umpire, into it that way.”
Sanks remembers her father was not one to put up with explosive emotional moments from players, either those on teams he coached or those he dealt with as an umpire.
“It’s sad that there are so many stories about that on the news these days,” she said.
Delfino had a close friend, Andrew Vanche, who was a Korean War veteran and also shared a passion for baseball and umpiring. Vanche ran the umpire roster in their Ohio recreational league that employed Delfino for years; Vanche passed away in 2019 as well.
“It would be a great thing to have veterans in that role. They are used to a certain amount of taking charge in situations,” she said.
For more information about Protect the Game, or to donate supplies or monetary support, please contact Jordan Cohen at (970) 672-0575 or firstname.lastname@example.org