Tony Patch dies - top umpire, football official
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
(06-29) 21:58 PDT -- Tony Patch, an institution in the Bay Area as a baseball umpire, football official and smiling face at any sports venue, died Saturday of a heart attack. He was 69.
"He meant the world to us," said John Zlatunich, the athletic activities coordinator for the San Francisco Section. "He was an umpire, a football official and someone who helped schedule people for both sports. Not only that, he was also our most consistent go-between with parks and recreation."
Mr. Patch died after umpiring a goodwill game between a St. Ignatius summer-league team and a squad visiting from France. He is survived by his wife, Midge Lingvai; his son, David; daughter, Denise; and two grandchildren who had "the best days of their lives" when he took them for Tasty Time ice cream, Lingvai said.
"We're bewildered," said Dave Stamer, a longtime member of Mr. Patch's officiating crew. "He never talked himself up the way guys sometimes do. He just wasn't that way."
Mr. Patch was one of the best umpires in the region, getting inducted into the Amateur Baseball Umpires Association Hall of Fame in 1999 and working seven of the last eight city championships and six straight TransBay series. He umpired the College World Series six times, subbed at the major-league level during two work stoppages and worked the sidelines at 49ers games for the last eight years.
He was the president of the Northern California Umpires Association, the executive director and assignor of Bay Area Collegiate Umpires, and president of the Northern California Football Officials Association.
"This is a real loss to all of San Francisco," Lowell baseball coach John Donohue said. "Tony could come into a preseason meeting with knowledge of all of the new rules and present them in a manner that became commonsense.
"He had a thankless job, but he did it in such a professional manner that he demanded respect."
Mr. Patch's signature was communication with the athletes. He often would inform them about rules and give them a chance to correct errors before throwing a flag in football, and he always was ready with a quick joke that made everyone OK with a borderline call in baseball.
"His pet peeve was drawing attention to himself and taking it away from the game and the kids playing it," Lingvai said. "He was very likable. He had his gruff moments, but you always knew why, and once he said what needed to be said, that was the end of it."
The viewing has been scheduled at 3 p.m. July 7 at Duggan's Serra Mortuary in Daly City, and the funeral will be July 9 at a time and place to be announced.