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ST. PAUL, MN — (August 5, 2022) – Umpires are rarely honored for their hard, often underappreciated work, let alone with an award named for a man as well-respected as the late, great Jimmy Lee. To provide the recognition they so richly deserve, the Saints have introduced an initiative to promote the importance of, and the need for, great umpires and have selected seven winners in the inaugural Jimmy Lee Umpire Awards class.
The following exemplary umpires will be honored during a pregame ceremony celebrating Jimmy Lee and his impact on the Saint Paul community, prior to the Saints August 9 home game:
Lifetime Achievement in Umpiring – Larry Gallagher and Bryan DeVos
Most Dedicated Umpire – Duane Reed & Peyton Yurek
Rookie Umpire of the Year – Nathan O’Brien
Young Umpire of the Year – Ethan Agre
Most Improved Umpire – Chase Hebel
Both baseball and softball umpires were nominated by their league’s assignors in five different categories and a panel including Saints leadership and leaders in the officiating community selected the final award winners. This class of winners is headlined by one of the most respected umpires in Minnesota, Larry Gallagher.
The 82-year-old Gallagher retired in 2020 after 59-years as an umpire and is the Dean of the Northwest Umpires Association. During his final year playing catcher at Augsburg in 1961, an umpire working one of the games thought Gallagher would be a good ump, based on the fact he had been a catcher his entire life. Gallagher, who had a passion for the game and a teaching degree, agreed with the sentiment and thus a long and storied career began.
By his estimation, Gallagher believes he umpired well over 5,000 games and acquired the nickname “Dr. Balk.” A typical season saw Gallagher umpire between 100-150 games, and he was known for studying the rule book intently.
Gallagher got his opportunity to umpire in the Major Leagues in 1979 when the umpires went on strike at the start of the season. In his first Major League game on May 3, he was the first base umpire as the Minnesota Twins hosted the Detroit Tigers at Metropolitan Stadium. All told, Gallagher umpired seven games in the Major Leagues, two behind the plate.
He continued umpiring at various levels of amateur baseball as well as officiating high-school football, basketball, and wrestling. He was a high-school physical-education teacher and coach until he retired in 1999. In addition to umpiring, which he still does, Gallagher is a baseball rules interpreter and coordinator for the Minnesota State High School League.
The Jimmy Lee Umpire Award will be an annual honor given out by the Saints to the most deserving umpires in the area. The award is named after one of the most well-respected officials in Minnesota history. Jim “Jimmy” Lee was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, moved to St. Paul when he was 23, and got a job with a downtown bank. He was involved in sports and played on the Uptown Sanitary Shop and the Twin Cities Colored Gophers, two of the most renowned Black baseball teams at the time. He became a local referee in both football and basketball and an umpire in baseball, considered by many the greatest official in the area at all three sports. He was the first black baseball umpire in the Big 10. He wrote columns for the _Minneapolis Spokesman _for over a decade. Lee was inducted into the Minnesota High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame (1972), the Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame (1982) and posthumously into the Minnesota State High School League Hall of Fame in 2013.
This is the second of two nights promoting “The Nine,” a new, Black-community focused outreach platform specifically designed to honor and celebrate the historic impact numerous Black baseball pioneers made on the sport, provide new opportunities for youth baseball and softball participation, further diversify the business of baseball, and embrace millions of passionate fans throughout MiLB’s 120 communities nationwide.
The award ceremony will take place prior to the Tuesday, August 9 game between the Saints and the Columbus Clippers.
Saints tickets continue to be a tremendous value. Tickets begin at $5 for the Treasure Island berm seating, $6 bleacher seats, $15 for outfield reserved, $18 for drink rail, infield reserved, and home plate reserved. Friday home games with Post-Game Fireworks are an additional $2 per ticket. Post-Game Fireworks Supershows (September 4) are an additional $3 per ticket. Tickets purchased on the day of the game are an additional $2 per ticket. Children under the age of 12 and seniors 65 and older receive $1 off the admission price. Children under 2 that don’t require a seat are free.