Palamar entertained teammates, his students and colleagues
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Tom Palamar appeared to be about as uncomplicated as a joyous, first-year golfer is after scoring a hole-in-one.
Coming to Shepherd College after graduating from Rahway (New Jersey) High School in 1953, the athletic Palamar began his long service of making those around him laugh, have fun and enjoy his company. His face was always covered with a perpetual smile and his wise cracks and jokes flowed like maple syrup onto hot cakes.
Simply put, he was an entertainer.
And he was a talented baseball player.
The Washington Senators of the Calvin Griffith era signed him to a professional contract and he went off to the minor leagues to see if he could climb the ladder toward the major leagues. He played three years in the lower reaches of the Senators and Minnesota Twins farm systems. After rounds in Wilson (North Carolina), Missoula (Montana) and Fox Cities (Wisconsin), Palamar was released by the Twins organization.
In his mid-20s, he graduated from Shepherd in 1961 and began his teaching career at Shepherdstown High School. His laugh-provoking ways weren’t wasted on those high school teens when he was appointed head baseball coach and held assistant coaching positions in both football and basketball.
The summer months of 1961 were spent playing the outfield for the Charles Town Post 71 American Legion adult team that played against Leone’s of Baltimore, Fort Myer, the Frederick Hustlers and Federal Storage of Washington, D.C. among others.
Serious when the situation called for concentration on baseball, Palamar was never too far from keeping things light. Between innings of the games staged at Legion Field in Charles Town, he kept pace with the latest country music songs being blasted along the public address airways by disc jockey Bill Peer, a friend of Gore, Virginia’s Patsy Cline whose singles were rapidly capturing the musical hearts of the nation.
His voice joined Patsy’s in an unplanned duet and he strummed an imaginary guitar as Charles Town pitcher Dick Forrest got in his warm-up pitches before facing another Legion opponent.
After earning a master’s degree from Coppin State in Baltimore, Md., it was off to Washington County to teach at South Potomac Junior High in Hagerstown, Md. It wasn’t too many years later, and he was in the Vocational Education Department of the county’s public school system.
Later, the Washington County Sports Hall of Fame inducted him after he had done well enough around the county in the fastpitch softball circles.
A car accident at age 47 left him with knee and back problems, and then a heart attack at age 50 further slowed his gait, but not the pace of his laugh-provoking banter, which had seen an impersonation of comedian Rodney Dangerfield be added to his lengthy list of jokes.
Another heart attack in 1993 led to triple bypass surgery, and he went to reside at the Fahrney-Keedy facility near Boonsboro in 2014.
It was only after he passed in 2017 at age 81 that his entertaining ways were silenced.
Tom Palamar had been a personable teammate, a perfect colleague when teaching in several public schools and a much-appreciated teacher by the teens in both Shepherdstown and Washington County. And unlike Rodney Dangerfield, who claimed to get “no respect,” he gained the admiration of people across many walks of life.