A singles hitter and first baseman with an average arm in his senior men’s fastball days, Vic Rantio is better known for calling strikes and balls in a long umpiring career.
Rantio, a retired liquor store manager, is the 2012 winner of the Kelly Roste Memorial Trophy awarded by the Vernon Umpires Association for dedication and determination.
The trophy, presented in memory of Roste, a popular fastball player and umpire who died in December, 1998 in a car accident, had been lost for a few years. Past winners include Keith Louis, Gary Roste (Kelly’s father), Dennis Einarson, Ann Holmes, Rob Ferroux and Jim Sanderson.
“They’ve asked me back for next year, but I’m going to be 70; I’m done,” chuckled Rantio, moments after a ceremony at the Kal Sports Bar.
“I’ve done thousands of games and I liked meeting players and umpires and seeing different calibres of ball. I’ve seen some of the best ball in the world, from Vernon to Kelowna.”
A Blue Jays’ fan who saw the Phillies sweep Toronto last season in a series at Skydome, Rantio started umpiring in the 1970s when players in small northern B.C. towns had to officiate their own games.
When he moved back to Vernon in 1981 after working up north, Rantio was urged by District 9 Umpire in Chief, Jim Sanderson, to join the Softball B.C. Umpires Association.
“He was well known for his longevity,” said Einarson, who has helped run the men’s league for decades. “He was fair and he was decisive. A mistake was a mistake and he didn’t even things up.”
In a 31-year career, Rantio has been Umpire in Chief in all levels of minor ball and men’s and women’s fastpitch except senior A.
In 1977, he was chief for the Western Canadian Masters men’s and women’s championships in Vernon.
He worked four Canadian playdowns, two westerns, the World Master Games, the Native nationals, Canada Cup and the B.C. Summer Games. He has been a District 9 fastpitch clinician for 20 years and UIC for 10 years. Vic also served as deputy chief for Slo-Pitch National.
“He was always fair,” said Rebecca Richardson, a fastball pitcher, of her uncle. “I certainly didn’t feel any favourtism. Once he made a call, he stuck with it, and he had a powerhouse voice.”
Born on April 3, 1943 in Revelstoke, Rantio grew up in Malakwa before attending high school in Vernon.
“I played at Alexis Park when it had all wooden fences and there was a tower behind home plate,” he said.
“I started playing for Hall’s Gravel Crushers and then for Paul Worth’s (Western Sportswear & Cresting) Generals.”
Vic, whose biggest fan is his wife, Maureen, volunteers with the community policing program and the Canadian Cancer Society.