By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Sometimes the people who have the biggest impacts in sports aren’t the ones suiting up to play.

Take local institution Larry Gallagher, who Saturday night will be honored for his work as an amateur athlete, coach, and umpire, all while raising two children and through nearly six decades of marriage.

At 82 years old, he’s reflecting on another award, this one presented for his commitment to youth sports.

“For my total contribution to sports, as a coach, as a player, as an umpire, as a manager — I did all those things,” he said.

He retired from baseball at age 79 after working 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 much. One day his granddaughter’s team did not have a basketball referee, so he came out of the stands and worked it. He was a long-time coach at Tartan High School, and keeps up with his student athletes on Facebook.

“I’ve got probably 500 kids from Tartan on Facebook that are friends, and some of them I taught and they came back and taught at Tartan,” he said.

What he’s seen evolve in youth sports over the past seven decades is specialization — too much of it.

“They’ve gone from fun to too serious, I think, where you can’t play all of them, you can only play one,” he said.

He still tries to call upon his vast experience to help the younger umpires. It’s his natural calling.

“You’ve got to be strong with your voice, but only at the right time. Some umpires at a young age don’t say enough, they’re so timid,” he said.

it’s been a good life for Larry Gallagher. And it still is.

Mike Max