Community Heroes: John Mashburn inspires many after umpiring career, health battles

Community Heroes

(WJHL) — The job of an umpire is thankless. It’s high pressure calling pitches from behind the plate. Both teams, and folks in the stands, are second-guessing your calls.  

A Tri-Cities Community Hero took the Little League field for decades. Now his umpiring days are behind him…and he’s facing a new challenge.

After his service in the Army in the 1960’s, John Mashburn started serving his community in many ways. He was a probation officer, but he’s best known for being a Little League umpire. He remembers when his friend convinced him to umpire Little League games.

“He just come up to me in the winter of ’72, I think, and said, ‘I want you to call ball with me,” Mashburn remembers.

So, he did. Mashburn took the field for 45 years and even has a field named in his honor.

“I’m emotional. I cried. I’ll tell anybody,” he said. “Never thought anything would happen to a country boy who went to school in the Lamar area.”

Mashburn’s commitment to perfecting his craft took him all the way to the Little League World Series.
“That was beyond a lifetime dream,” he said.

He didn’t know it at the time, but Mashburn’s stint in the Army would help him learn to survive, and thrive, after losing his eyesight. Mashburn suffers from macular degeneration. He has lost the use of one eye and his other is failing him.  

“I have so many devices that help me get around now, through the VA,” he says.  “Without them, the private sector don’t get what I did.”

But, he still has a love for the game and a sense of humor, and he says he would still be out there today.

“Never thought about quitting,” he said laughing. “If I could see, I’d be down there today. They said I couldn’t see then, so I might as well go back. They said I couldn’t see then.”

Through his service to the community, Mashburn inspired decades of others through his love of the game.

“You’ve got to put your faith in God, you’ve got to help others, then you might worry about yourself,” he said. “But, you have to have faith first.”

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