Delayed by a year due to the pandemic, NASO presented the 2020-21 Gold Whistle Award and Mel Narol Medallion in July. UMPS CARE received the Gold Whistle in a ceremony July 9 at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Steve Shaw received the Mel Narol Medallion at his home in Alabama.
Shaw, who has been national coordinator of football officiating for the CFO since 2020, was selected due to his service to NASO. He was a member of the association’s board of directors from 2009-13 and was the chair from 2011-12.
Mano said Shaw received the award because he did “wonderful things for NASO through the years. Despite all those things Steve had to do in his life, he still took time and energy and resources to support NASO,” Mano said.
A former Southeastern Conference (SEC) football referee, the only referee in the Bowl Conference Subdivision era to work two National Championship games, Shaw moved off the field to serve as the SEC’s coordinator of officials from 2011-19. He has been secretary-rules editor of the NCAA Football Rules Committee since 2016.
“It is truly an honor to accept the Mel Narol Medallion Award,” Shaw said. “It was my honor to serve (NASO) and really see all the issues that would face officials and see how NASO would advocate for us officials. As a conference coordinator, I was very proud to have our group be one of the early adopters of 100 percent joining in bulk.”
Shaw noted that even though he is no longer a board member, he maintains a strong connection to NASO. “I’m still working with NASO — they publish our CCA mechanics manual — and that’s very important for all officials. I’m deeply appreciative for the award and I’m deeply appreciative for the organization,” he said.
UMPS CARE had humble beginnings, sponsoring golf outings to raise money that helped former umpires who had fallen on hard times. The program expanded and now, among other efforts, spreads cheer to hospitalized children, provides scholarships and aids military veterans.
“By visiting pediatric hospitals, giving out more than 17,000 Build-a-Bears, the Blue for Kids Program, Wounded Warrior Baseball Academy, the leadership program, the things they do for the families of former umpires — it’s an incredible record that has shined such a positive light on those of us in sports officiating,” Mano said. Taking all those things into account, choosing UMPS CARE as the Gold Whistle recipient “was an easy decision.”
On hand to accept the award were current MLB umpires Tim Timmons, Alphonso Marquez, Lance Barrett and Adam Beck; Larry Young, UMPS CARE board member and 2002 Gold Whistle recipient; Gary Darling, UMPS CARE president; and Jenn Skolochenko-Platt, UMPS CARE executive director. Young and Darling are retired MLB umpires.
“We are completely honored to be recognized by an organization so well-known worldwide in the world of officiating as NASO,” Darling said. “We’re just ecstatic that you guys thought of us. We’re proud of what we do and it’s very nice to be recognized.”