Vernon began his umpiring career as an IHSA baseball official in the mid-1950s after playing both baseball and fastpitch softball at many Southern Illinois communities. Vernon recalls that his umpiring opportunities increased significantly after USSSA Director, Orvel Cox asked him to not only umpire, but to be the umpire-in-chief of the USSSA sanctioned slowpitch softball league in Red Bud. This not only jump started his umpiring career as one of the finest officials in Southern Illinois, but one of the most respected.
Vernon spent 15 years as a USSSA umpire, officiating numerous state level tournaments, which provided him his biggest umpiring honor as he umpired a National Tournament in Bridgeton, MO. At the tournament, Vernon recalls when the very first batter in the first game swung at the ball and his back swing struck the catcher in the back of the head. it made him realize that he needed to keep his distance as well.
Vernon also was involved in an incident during his umpiring career during a tournament at Red Bud, when a player slid into home plate and swallowed his tongue. With some medical knowledge and a quick response, Vernon suppressed the tongue enough with his indicator to open the player's airway, allowing emergency workers to get the player to the hospital. Later, Vernon learned that the player had returned to the ball diamond after his release to thank him for his quick actions, even though he had already departed.
Tonight, the Illinois USSSA thanks Vernon for his many years of umpiring excellence and in making the USSSA a leader of fair play.