Robert McGee is proving age is nothing but a number.
After a chilly Monday night on the diamond under the lights, the 80-year-old is persistent he’s not ready to stop calling the game just yet.
If you’ve played baseball or softball in Lufkin, McGee may be a familiar name because he’s umpired for 40 years now. With the way he calls the game, Robert said many don’t believe him when he tells the players how old he is.
“’No!’ That's the first thing they say. ‘You don't look 80,’" said Robert.
Robert hasn't let age stop him from enjoying the game he loves. In fact, he didn't stop playing baseball until he was 52 years old.
“I'm just as happy as I can be when I'm out there,” said Robert.
The home runs, good plays and come-from-behind victories have entertained Robert, but he said it's the people that have kept the spark he has for umpiring alive.
“I enjoy being around these players and everybody that's affiliated with it,” said Robert. “I just enjoy people.”
Age can come with health problems. His family insists that has yet to keep him from behind the plate.
“He was sick last summer. We had to give him a pacemaker and after three weeks he said ‘Someone has to drive me to the ballpark because I have to get back out there,’” said Robert’s daughter Anita McGee.
After all his time umpiring the game, the players all know McGee and they know his age hasn’t dulled his sense of humor. The wise guy isn't afraid to crack a few jokes and teach the young guns how it's done.
“He's always got a good joke to tell,” said slow pitch softball player Chad Nash. “He's happy to joke around and he's one of the best natured guys out here.”
“He’s a legend in his own time and probably a few generations back as well. He's a good dude. He's a lot of fun to be with when you're getting stomped out here,” said slow pitch softball player Phillip Watson.
“I think he does more than come stand behind the plate. I think he really interacts with the people, the fans, the players and they remember him,” said Anita.
For Robert, umpiring is his purpose.
Building relationships, making people smile, and doing the small things in a simple setting is his purpose. Robert said he uses umpiring as another other way to serve others.
“I love to help others. If I can help somebody, I’d sure like to do that,” said Robert. “I just have to thank God to keep blessing me for as long as He has and sees fit for me to be blessed. I’m just a thankful, thankful person.”
Robert is also a newlywed and married in March, proving it’s never too late to find love and live life to the fullest.
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