On April 29, 1986, Boston Red Sox pitcher Roger Clemens struck out a Major League Baseball-record 20 batters.
It was the signature moment of one of the greatest pitching seasons of all time. Clemens won 24 games that season and led his team to the World Series. The American League pitcher also won his first of seven Cy Young Awards and was named the league's Most Valuable Player that year.
Behind that moment in history, and several others, was Vineland native Vic Voltaggio. The name might not sound familiar, but Voltaggio was the man in blue calling strikes from behind the plate that night.
Voltaggio, 68, is being inducted into the Vineland Hall of Fame tonight at Vineland High School's all-sports banquet at Merighi's Savoy Inn in East Vineland.
Now a Florida resident, Voltaggio served as an American League umpire for nearly two decades, making his debut in Yankee Stadium in 1977. While Clemens' performance may stand out on his resume, it is by no means the only notable part of Voltaggio's career.
The former Vineland police officer and U.S. Marine sergeant worked three American League Championship series, a World Series and a Major League All-Star Game.
According to Voltaggio's biography on umpireteacher.com, for which he writes a column, he also called three no-hitters, including one for Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan.
He also was behind the plate of Game 3 of the 1989 World Series between the Oakland A's and the San Francisco Giants. An earthquake hit during that game at Candlestick Park in San Francisco and caused the delay of the series.
Voltaggio graduated from Vineland High School in 1959 and, along with his wife, Janet, was an early member of Vineland's Booster Club, which benefits the school's sports programs.
According to Voltaggio's Web site, his umpiring career started by chance. Voltaggio went with his wife to watch his nephew play a Babe Ruth League game. It was nearing the start of the game, and one of the umpires had not shown up. Without any experience, he was asked to help out.
It only took eight years from that game, through certification, training, umpiring at nearly every level, including high school, class-A, AA and AAA baseball, for him to reach the Major League.
While he is retired from baseball, Voltaggio remains active in other areas.
According to the Vineland Booster Club, Voltaggio served as a field agent for the National Security Agency after Sept. 11, 2001. Currently, Voltaggio is the national senior vice commandant for the Marines. In 2010, he will assume command as the 85th national commandant.
E-mail Edward Van Embden: