MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Sometimes the people who have the most impact in sports aren’t the ones who dress to play.
Take local institution Larry Gallagher, who Saturday night will be honored for his work as an amateur athlete, coach and referee, while raising two children and through nearly six decades of marriage.
At 82, he is considering another award, this one for his commitment to youth sport.
“For my total contribution to the sport, as a coach, as a player, as a referee, as a manager – I did all those things,” he said.
He retired from baseball at age 79 after appearing in almost countless games.
“Well, I know it’s over 5,000. That I know,” he said.
His wife of nearly 59 years was by his side through it all and said patience was a great virtue.
He has seen a lot. One day his granddaughter’s team didn’t have a basketball umpire, so he came out of the stands and worked it. He was a longtime coach at Tartan High School and follows his student athletes on Facebook.
“I have probably 500 Tartan kids on Facebook who are friends, and I’ve taught some of them and they’ve come back and taught Tartan,” he said.
What he has seen evolve in youth sports over the past seven decades is specialization – too much.
“They went from fun to too serious, I think, where you can’t play them all, you can only play one,” he said.
He always tries to use his vast experience to help young referees. It is his natural vocation.
“You have to be strong with your voice, but only at the right time. Some referees at a young age don’t say enough, they are so shy,” he said.
It’s been a good life for Larry Gallagher. And it still is.