People Are Going to Miss Dick ToddSeptember 25th, 2009 by cstark
Jerry DiGiovanni passed along some sobering news on a ferry ride back from Seattle Thursday evening.
I’d been at a hospital in Seattle, visiting my dad, who’s recovering from knee replacement surgery.
“Dick Todd died,” DiGiovanni said.
I knew he’d been battling cancer, and the prognosis wasn’t good, but I wasn’t prepared to hear those three words.
“Dick Todd died.”
Now, nearly six hours later, I’m sitting at my home computer and Thursday night has become early Friday morning and I don’t know where to begin, or what I’m about to write. I’m not even sure how old Dick was. I think 75. And I can’t remember now if Todd died on Wednesday or Thursday morning.
All I know is that I’m feeling a little blue that the man a lot of people simply called “Blue” is gone. I feel kind of like I did the day Donny Krick, my old pal from Illahee who’d been so involved with youth sports and fastpitch softball, died after a heart attack.
Dick Todd, like Donny Krick, was one of the nicest guys I’d ever met. I wish I’d taken the time to visit Todd after learning last month that his health wasn’t good.
Like DiGiovanni, and my dad, Dick Todd was an umpire. Todd was also a soccer official and a football official.
And no disrespect to my dad or DiGiovanni, or any other umpires, past or present, but Dick Todd might have been the most liked, respected and beloved official to grace the peninsula.
He was the State Umpire-In-Chief Emeritus for the Amateur Softball Association.
I don’t remember the first time I met him but I remember the night he kicked me out of a softball game. It was the only time I was ever ejected. And, yes, I deserved it. I totally lost it during a fastpitch doubleheader at old Roosevelt Field. I just snapped after a call. Turned into Lou Piniella. As soon as I tossed my glove on the ground (OK, I spiked it liked I’d just scored the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl) in protest, Todd tossed me, which only fueled my insanity. Todd, who’d just returned from Colorado Springs, where he worked the Olympic Sports Festival, could only take so much. He eventually walked off the field and our team had to forfeit both games because of my tirade.
I’m still ashamed of the way I behaved that night.
Todd brought such respect and dignity to the game. How could I go off on a gentleman like him?
Todd got over it, and we laughed about it over the years. I continued to apologize almost every time I’d bump into him.
And I’d bump into him a lot because Todd remained a big part of the Kitsap sports scene. He was one of those guys who gave back to community after retiring from Keyport. He served as president of the Bremerton Athletic Roundtable and Silverdale Pee Wees. He continued to work with the local and state officials’ associations, where his influence helped shape the careers of countless others. In recent years, he served as a volunteer usher/ticket taker/utilityman for the Kitsap BlueJackets on game days. He also held down a part-time job with the county, working at the Kitsap Sun Pavilion, Village Greens Golf Course and wherever they needed him.
Yeah, it seemed like Dick Todd was everywhere. He’s one of those guys who had a tough time saying “no” to people.
I’ll never forget that infectious smile, or that slow gait of his. You might be standing in the middle of a hurricane, but if you there with Dick Todd, you’d never feel like you were in a storm.
There was just a sense of calmness, kindness and common sense about him.
It seems so trite to say that he’ll be missed. But, lord, the people of Kitsap County are going to miss Dick Todd.