The baseball field at Johnson Bottom has been renamed and officially dedicated as the “Larry Sturgeon Memorial Field” by the Pike County Fiscal Court. The dedication ceremony took place Saturday, April 2, 2016, with many family and friends in attendance.
Larry Sturgeon was no stranger to those participating in sports from the Phelps area. He had been a registered official with the Kentucky High School Athletic Association and an active participant in local sports for over twenty years, umpiring hundreds of men’s baseball and women’s softball games at the high school, little league, and independent level.
But his enthusiasm extended beyond his duties as umpire. Sturgeon loved all sports and attended football and basketball games, as well as many organizational meetings, anything associated with kids and/or sports at Phelps.
“Larry was one of kind,” Irene Sturgeon said. “No one compares to Larry.”
The respect of all those who knew Larry Sturgeon was based not only on his willingness to support local sports, but on the disadvantages he overcame to do so. Larry Sturgeon was born with Cerebral Palsy, an affliction which hampers muscle control and coordination. Unable to use his right hand and participate in sports himself, he umpired from his wheelchair near third base.
“I enjoy it,” he once said. “I enjoy helping the kids out.”
Donald Pancake, who umpired many games with Sturgeon, said, “He’s one of the finest persons anybody would ever want to meet. He’s number one.”
Having lived in Freeburn his entire life, Larry Sturgeon died of cancer in 1999. He will be missed by all those who knew him for his dedication to sports in the Phelps area. A plague was placed at the ballfield on April 1st to officially dedicate the field in honor of Larry Sturgeon’s contributions to the local community.