By Kevin Devlin
He grew up in Central New York but now hangs his hat in South Boston. His name is Joseph “Joe” Rocco.
Joe attended Oneida High School in Oneida, New York. He played varsity football and baseball for all four years for the Oneida Royal Pride. He was a wide receiver and a center fielder in these respective sports. He was Tri-Valley First Team Player in both sports in his junior and senior years.
Joe graduated from high school in 2004 and studied accounting at Hartwick College, a non-denominational, private, four-year liberal arts and science college located in Oneonta, New York. At Hartwick, Joe was a four-year starter on the varsity football team for his entire college career. In his junior year, the Hartwick Hawks won the Empire 8 title, the first year the college captured the elusive league championship. The team subsequently competed in the Division II NCAA tournament.
Joe graduated from Hartwick in 2008. He is now working as a certified public accountant in Boston and is married to Melissa Evanco, whom he met at work. He has lived in South Boston since 2010.
He began umpiring Little League Baseball when he was in high school. It was a voluntary effort, a community service he was glad to perform in his tight-knit New York community.
“Everyone knew everyone,” he said. “The Little League players liked the idea of seeing the high school players umpire their games and we enjoyed it too.”
When Joe moved to South Boston, he immediately got involved and started umpiring games in the South Boston Little League. He is a certified umpire in the Eastern Massachusetts Baseball Umpires Association (EMBUA). And, he loves being part of this sports community.
“Once I stopped played sports in school, I wanted to stay involved,” he said. “By umpiring I get to be around sports and be part of the community.
“I enjoy umpiring in South Boston,” he added. “I know some take the sport really seriously, but I try to make it fun for the kids. I talk to the kids, tell a few jokes, make sure they’re having fun and enjoying themselves like they should be.
“The kids and the Little League coaches and managers are great to work with,” he further stated. “The adults are dedicated to the kids and teach them the right way to play the game. They do a great job. I’m proud to be part of this league.”
Just recently, Joe traveled to Bristol, Connecticut, volunteering his time and energy umpiring nine games in the Little League Eastern Regional Finals Tournament. This regional featured six teams from the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic area competing in a double elimination event. He was chosen to be the plate umpire in the championship game that was seen my many Little League enthusiasts on ESPN.
“I enjoyed the whole week,” he said. “And being on TV umpiring the championship game was really cool.”