June 27, 2012 Edition

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Shaw recognized for
20 years of umpiring

Brad Flippo (left), chairman of the Walnut Ridge Parks and Recreation Little League Program, presents a plaque of appreciation to Blake Shaw. After 20 years as an umpire for the local Little League program, Shaw is retiring.

John Bland

After 20 years of umpiring Walnut Ridge Little League games, Blake Shaw is retiring. The Walnut Ridge Parks and Recreation Little League Program honored him earlier this month for his service.

Brad Flippo, Little League chairman, presented him with a plaque during an awards presentation at the end of regular season play.

"He tries to help every kid out there," Flippo told The TD. "He's very good about that."

He also noted that the fans seem especially respectful when Shaw is behind the plate.

Shaw has been a familiar face at the ballpark for most of his life. He played for six years in the Walnut Ridge Little League program in the days when Bobby C. Watson, retired Hoxie High School coach, was director and coach for the program.

Shaw also played three years of Babe Ruth baseball and two years of American Legion baseball at Stewart Park, where he hit 30 or more home runs in the various leagues.

Shaw's love of the game and being involved in baseball started with his dad, Herman Shaw, and Coach Watson. While in elementary school, Shaw started reading about the rules of the game. One of his first book reports was on Jackie Robinson, the first black baseball player to break Major League Baseball's color barrier.

"I've spent most of my life watching or playing the game," he said.

Shaw began umpiring Little League games as a teenager, after encouragement from his father and Watson. He began calling in the field and later moved behind the plate.

Through the years he has also umpired a lot of softball, including the men's and co-ed church softball leagues.

Umpiring has allowed Shaw to continue to be around the sport, as well as being around the kids.

"The thing I love most is trying to help the kids," Shaw said. If he has advice, knowledge or encouragement that he thinks can help a player, he has enjoyed sharing that with them.

Shaw said he is ready to turn over his umpiring duties to some of the younger guys. With three to four nights of umpiring, he hasn't had time to watch his nephew play ball, and he would like to do that.

He also admits that it wasn't all fun. "At times it was a headache." However, for Shaw, it is obvious that any negatives aspects of umpiring were far outweighed by the positives of the game.

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