By Rob Potter
SULLIVAN COUNTY Youngsville resident Gerald “Jerry” Davitt has been umpiring high school baseball games for more than 50 years.
Over those years, he has earned the respect of dozens of fellow umpires, coaches and players.
Davitt will be honored for his outstanding work as an umpire at a dinner tomorrow night at Nirchi’s on the Avenue restaurant in Endicott. He will receive the 2011 Tony DeVivo Memorial Award from the New York State Baseball Umpires Association, Inc.
Davitt was nominated for the Tony DeVivo Memorial Award by his fellow members of the Sullivan County Baseball Umpires Association (SCBUA). He found out he would be receiving the award back in July.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Davitt said. “I was taken aback, it really surprised me.”
Davitt noted that he has attended past dinners to honor Tony DeVivo Memorial Award winners.
“It’s a real honor,” Davitt said of receiving the award.
Davitt, who was an elementary school teacher in the Jeffersonville-Youngsville Central School District for 33 years, has been involved with other sports, as well, over the past several decades. Back in 1966, he and Paul Zintel helped establish the International Athletic Association of Basketball Officials (IAABO) Board 247 to provide basketball officials for high school games in Sullivan County.
Two years later, Davitt and Bob Breffle, who was the JYCS Principal, were instrumental in forming the Sullivan County Baseball Umpires Association.
In the 1970s, Davitt assisted in the creation of the Sullivan County Soccer Officials Association.
“I feel very privileged to have been a charter member of the baseball, basketball and soccer associations,” he said.
In addition to teaching, Davitt coached several scholastic teams in basketball, baseball, football and track and field. Davitt coached the JYCS junior varsity boys’ basketball team for 20 years. During those two decades, the team only lost 21 league games. In 1987, Davitt coached the JYCS varsity baseball team to the state finals. The following season, he guided the team to the state semifinals.
In nominating Davitt for the Tony DeVivo Memorial Award, the SCBUA members had to explain how he met the qualifications for the award. Those qualifications included being a member in good standing for 10 years of both local and state chapters, following chapter rules and state dress code and encouraging others to do so and demonstrating excellence as an umpire by showing integrity, dependability and a high degree of professionalism in their relationships with umpires, coaches, players and school officials.
The SCBUA members also listed Davitt’s many accomplishments and contributions to baseball in Sullivan County in their nomination letter. Among those contributions are being the first President of the SCBUA and serving in that role for many years, serving as the SCBUA Vice President and Secretary/Treasurer, serving on the SCBUA Education Committee since 1968, giving field mechanics clinics to both new officials and veterans and volunteering his time to summer youth leagues as an umpire and coach.
The nomination letter also noted that Davitt has umpired all stages of baseball, including regular season, sectionals, regional and state tournament play. He has umpired in the state tournament three times 1986, 1998 and 2007.
In addition to being involved in establishing chapter boundaries for the state of New York, during his years as an umpire, Davitt has attended all state meetings and clinics.
Davitt began umpiring in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association in 1957 after returning home from serving in the United States Navy. He did so after meeting and becoming a friend of Nester Chylark, an American League umpire.
Among the accolades that Davitt, who has been a member of the Youngsville Volunteer Fire Department since 1958, has received over the years are being named the Tri-County Baseball Coach of the Year in 1987, being named the Southern Science Teacher of the Year in 1987 and being elected to the Wayne County, Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.
“The Sullivan County Baseball Umpires would like to say we believe Jerry is a most deserving candidate because he has dedicated his life to the development of young people through sports and higher education,” SCBUA Past Vice President Harold J. Roberts wrote in the nomination letter for Davitt. “Teaching them how to deal with the glories of success with dignity and humility and the adversity of defeat with respect and integrity. Five decades later, in his 80s, showing through example his love and dedication to baseball by still being one of our finest varsity baseball umpires on the field and maintaining the respect of coaches, players, fans and colleagues alike, we are proud to nominate Jerry Davitt for the prestigious Tony DeVivo Memorial Award.”
Cliff Hamlin is the current SCBUA President and has known Davitt for many years.
“He’s an outstanding member of the Sullivan County Baseball Umpires Association,” Hamlin said of Davitt. “He’s just a great individual. He still stays very involved with the community.”