50 years and out: Local umpire calls it quits - KPTV - FOX 12

50 years and out: Local umpire calls it quits

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(KPTV) -

The high school sports season is in the books for the kids and the adults.

Steve Rei worked in his third and final state championship game on Friday, the 3A matchup between St. Mary's and Glide.

From Little League to the Division I college level, Rei's life as an umpire included a 21-year run as commissioner of the Portland Umpires Association. Now, he's out. 

A 1958 graduate of Central Catholic High School, Rei always wanted to remain in the game.

“I was not that great of a player but wanted to be part of it, wanted to be on the field,” he said. 

From '68 to '17, the 76-year-old father of seven, who now lives in Hazel Dell, is ringing up his umpiring career after 50-years.

“Making sure you get it right. That's our prime focus,” Rei said. 

Getting it right, most of the time, for a half century. 

“No idea that I would be doing it this long but the more I kept doing it, the more I liked it and it kept me coming back,” he said. 

Rei remains spry around the diamond. You make the call, and you can call him, “Mr. 3,000.”

“I might get a little emotional. This will be the last time that I will do that after 3,000 and some odd games,” Rei said. 

That is just a rough estimate of how many games he has umped in the Beaver State. 

“The kids are bigger, faster. They play the games better. Coaching has really improved I think over the years, which makes it challenging for us,” Rei said. 

Rei was in the transportation business for 40 years, but it was his night shift that allowed him to witness the best player he ever saw on the local diamond from Wilson High in the early 70s.

“Dale Murphy,” he said. “In high school, he was a catcher so I got to kind of know him a little bit.”

Working the plate behind a future major league All-Star, it was Rei’s the love of the game that kept him coming back to the park after all these years.

“It's not about the money. If it was about the money, nobody would do it,” he said. 

Now with free time on his side, Rei won't stray too far from America's pastime.

“I have a great nephew, my brother’s grandson, who is playing minor league baseball back on the East Coast. In a week I am going to watch him play some games and I am on a mission to see a baseball game in every major league stadium and I have seven to go,” he said.  

Two new yards in New York, Philly, Detroit, Cleveland and Toronto, which he'll check all off of his bucket list this summer, after assisting the boys of summer in Oregon for 50 years.

When asked what is the best thing about baseball, Rei said, “Gosh, everything.”

Two of his sons have umped and one continues to as well. 

We wish him well in retirement, rounding the bases to the rest of those major league ballparks. 

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