HIBBING — When Babe Glumack steps out on a basketball court or a baseball diamond, he’s not looking for recognition.
The longtime Hibbing native has been in the officiating business since 1969 or 51 years to be exact, and although he has had several accolades come his way, he’s only interested in one thing — the ability to work with athletes.
Glumack’s dedication to the sporting world in the Northland and around the state has not gone unnoticed as he was presented the Distinguished Service Award by the Minnesota Interscholastic Activities Administration Association.
The ceremony was supposed to be held on March 24 in St. Cloud, but that get together was canceled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Hibbing Athletic Director Meghan Potter presented Glumack the award at the high school in early March.
“It wasn’t something I was expecting,” Glumack said. “Meghan came up to me and said I had been nominated in the State Minnesota for my dedication toward sports in Minnesota, the Iron Range and Duluth areas.
“It was a surprise for me. That’s how that came about. I found out around March 1. They shipped the plaque to Meghan, and she gave it to me.”
A total of four individuals got the distinguished service award. The other individuals are from Sibley East, Sleepy Eye-St. Mary’s and Mayer Lutheran.
Glumack has paid his dues in the officiating business. He wanted to be a Major League Baseball player in his youth, but that never panned out.
“That didn’t turn out well, but I had a lot fun trying,” Glumack said. “That’s when I tried umpiring. I went to school in Dayton Beach, Fla., which I’m glad I did. I worked minor-league baseball for two years before the real Northern League folded.
“I umpired Big Ten Baseball for 18 years on the circuit. I came back to Hibbing and got married. I have a couple of great kids. Unfortunately, bad things happened when my wife (Georgene) died last May. God bless her.”
Glumack may not have made it at the Major League level, but he certainly made a name for himself around the area.
He had one reason for that.
“I like being involved with the athletes,” Glumack said. “I talk to them during the game. My main thing is watching them grow up. You see them in Pee Wee Baseball, Little League baseball, then they grow up and graduate from high school.
“I can see them grow up, and I can be a part of it.”
Glumack has learned many things in his 51 years of refereeing and umpiring, but he has one piece of advice when it comes to officiating.
“I think common sense in refereeing is a big factor,” he said. “You don’t look for stuff. Let the kids decide the game.”
Glumack has been involved with the game for so long, working at every level imaginable.
“I kept on going and going, and here we are today,” he said. “I don’t think I’m deserving, but I put myself into that position to help athletes out. I did small-kid stuff and college stuff. I worked my way through minor-league baseball, Big Ten baseball, Independent Pro Baseball.
“I’m not looking for awards, but sometimes, hard work pays off. It makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something, but this isn’t about me. It’s about the athletes. Refereeing is a funny deal. You get it in your blood, and it’s hard to get rid of.”
Glumack is appreciative of all the support he’s received over the years.
“The day is going to come when it’s going to end, but I thank everybody that I’ve dealt with, the athletic directors to the coaches,” Glumack said. “I have to thank Meghan and every athletic director in Minnesota. They gave the opportunity to do some big games, some title games.
“You’re going to get yelled at a few times, but you go out there and do your job, hustle and use common sense. That’s when good things happen. I’ve had my ups-and-downs in life, but you have to continue to do what you love to do. Hopefully, I can ride the ship a little longer.”