Like Al Downing and Hank Aaron, he was a part of history. He was the part that few people know, let alone care about, yet he will be forever linked with those two gentlemen on that cloudy April Monday night in 1974 when all of America was watching NBC with Curt Gowdy and Tony Kubek. Ed Vargo passed away Saturday in Butler, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh at age 79.
Vargo died Saturday at his home in Butler, about 35 miles north of Pittsburgh, according to Geibel Funeral Home in Butler.
Vargo umpired in the National League from 1960-83, worked the 1965, 1971, 1978 and 1983 World Series and in four All-Star games. Vargo is the only major league umpire to call a no-hitter and a perfect game for the same pitcher, according to MLB's Web site. Downing is not the first Dodger pitcher that he has been linked with historically. He was behind home plate for Sandy Koufax's no-hitter on June 4, 1964, and his perfect game on Sept. 9, 1965.
A one-time minor league catcher, Vargo stayed in baseball long after leaving the field. He was the supervisor of umpires for the National League from 1987-97.
Vargo wore the same jacket when he worked Koufax's perfect game, the first World Series night game in 1971 and Hank Aaron's 714th home run in 1974. He gave the jacket to amateur umpire Ray Gouley, who donated it to the Hall of Fame after he learned of its historical significance.
Edward P. Vargo was born in Butler in 1928. One of his first jobs was as a batboy and equipment manager for the Butler Yankees. Vargo is survived by his wife of 45 years, Elizabeth; two daughters; and two sons. A funeral is scheduled for Wednesday at St. Peter Catholic Church in Butler, and Vargo will be buried at Butler County Memorial Park Cemetery in Butler.
Sources: USA Today, Associated Press, Major League Baseball