Baseball: Larry Young Field dedicated in Oregon

Oregon native, former MLB umpire has youth diamond named after him

Retired MLB umpire Larry Young speaks to the crowd during a Friday, June 14, 2024 dedication ceremony naming the field at Lion's Park in Young's honor,.Young grew up in Oregon and started his umpiring career calling games for the Oregon Park District at Lions Park.

OREGON – The baseball diamond where Larry Young planted the roots of a future Major League Baseball umpiring career was officially named in his honor Friday at Oregon’s Lions Park.

The Oregon Park District hosted a ceremony to dedicate Larry Young Field and celebrate his impact after a free umpiring clinic for all ages hosted by Young. A youth baseball game took place after the ceremony, which was filled with members of the community, his friends and family. The field is used for youth baseball and softball up to age 12.

Young threw out the first pitch, wearing his old chest protector.

Young, an Oregon High School grad, started umpiring at the field eight blocks from his home as a 13-year-old. He went on to have a 24-year umpiring career that featured two World Series games, All-Star games and several division and league championships.

Young began his professional umpiring career in 1983. Oregon has always been home for the 70-year-old.

“It’s an incredible feeling,” Young said of having the field named in his honor. “I know that the people in my hometown are honoring me, and I wasn’t expecting anything like this. It’s really something.”

Retired MLB umpire Larry Young was behind the plate for the ceremonial first pitch of the inaugural baseball game between the Oregon Blue and Oregon Red teams following the renaming of the field at Lion's Park in Young's honor on Friday, June 14, 2024. Pictured with Young are catcher Grady Grover and batter Sebastian Murphy. The first pitch was delivered by Huddson Long. Young grew up in Oregon and started his umpiring career calling games for the Oregon Park District at Lions Park.

The Oregon Park District approved plans to dedicate the field in his honor in November. Oregon Park District Commissioner Mark Tremble spoke before Young addressed the crowd.

“[Larry] has been phenomenal through this process,” said Oregon Park District Executive Director Erin Folk. “We look at this as a great opportunity for us to be able to honor somebody who’s been essentially a local legend in our community.”

Pictured is the plaque that was unveiled at Larry Young Field in Oregon on June 14, 2024 at Lion's Park.

Young umpired his first game in 1966 at the field. It went well, and he was offered to umpire games for the rest of the summer. He wasn’t paid, but he got a free root beer after each game.

“I did a lot of games that year and drank a lot of root beer,” he said.

Young, who wore No. 28, went on to umpire high school and college games, as well as the Alaskan League, before attending umpire school. He went on to make calls at the World Series in 1996 and 2003. He retired in 2007.

“Larry is a homegrown, local Oregon boy,” Tremble said. “Although his career has taken him all across the United States and the world, he would tell everyone that Oregon, Illinois, is his hometown, and his heart has always been here.”

Young founded the Larry Young and Friends Charity in 1999, which provides support for community organizations. He resides in Dubuque, Iowa, with his wife of 49 years and high school sweetheart, Joan. They are the parents of Jessica (Ike Gamble) and Darcy (Mike Putziger) and grandparents to Bo and Gus.

He is still involved as a supervisor of MLB umpires, training umpires all over the world.

“It’s been a very, very good profession for me,” Young said.

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Drake Lansman

Drake Lansman

Drake has been a sports reporter with Sauk Valley Media/Shaw Local since May of 2024. He is a Bettendorf native who graduated from Iowa State University. Drake previously covered sports in the Quad Cities area for nine years.