Tony DeFazio of Milton, by his own words, grew up on the wrong side of the tracks on the Philadelphia Main Line in Bryn Mawr. Tony was a meter reader in Philly and later retired from the Philadelphia Electric Company before he moved to Lewes/Milton in 1996. Tony is the quintessential Philly sports historian and still reads the Daily News hard copy.
"It’s been great since the moment I set foot on Fourth Street in Lewes and then in Milton," Tony said. “The people are just so friendly; everyone will stop and talk to you.”
Tony was named the 2013 winner of the Herm Reitzes Award for public service to sports, an award given by the Delaware Sportswriters and Broadcasters Association every year since Reitzes won it in 1983.
Some previous winners of the award are Bob Carpenter, Dave Nelson, George Frick, Ann Grunert, Jim Blades, Marion Lisehora, Ben Sirman, Bill Thomson and Bob Colburn.
“I looked at the list of previous winners and wondered how I got on it,” Tony said with a smile.
Tony made the list because in Sussex County from east side to west side and all around the town, the 74-year-old DeFazio with the ball cap and Daily News under his arm is "the sports guy” who is unrelentingly out there.
A 12-month sports year for Tony finds him officiating Sunday morning YMCA adult flag football fall and spring, a sport played by fit young men with no shortage of opinions, who make Richard Sherman seem like Russell Wilson; he officiates spring (girls') and fall (boys') varsity soccer, umpires spring high school softball, then from May to November is the umpire and chief of Delmarva for youth travel baseball, which has a tournament every weekend, from Snow Hill to Salisbury and all the way to Smyrna.
Tony also runs the scoreboard and is the public address announcer for Cape football games and does the same in addition to keeping score at Cape’s girls' basketball games. “I can do those jobs and chew gum at the same time," Tony joked.
Tony also umpires men’s slow-pitch softball in Milton, Milford and Bridgeville.
A few years back, Tony had aortic valve replacement surgery at Jefferson Hospital and was back officiating within a month.
Tony will be married 50 years this October and has a 45-year-old son.
"Sports enable a person to get out and meet all kinds of people, and it's been so positive down here; really it’s been a joy ride," he said.
A luncheon for all the DSBA award winners also including Team of the Year, Athlete of the Year, Coach of the Year and the Buddy Hurlock Award for Courage in sports will be held Monday, Feb. 17, at the Sheraton Wilmington South Hotel.
Tickets are $30. The website is http://www.delasports.org.