Dick Hassan (Umpire)

Richard Oliver "Dick" Hassan has come a very long way from his high school roots as the "Flawless Fielder" of New Lebanon High School in New York. Although he has long excelled at numerous sports, he will likely be more fondly remembered for his leadership. Part of that leadership led to Dick's creation of T-ball, that fun version of baseball played by millions of little tykes throughout the country. Known as the "Father of T-ball," Dick started his first program in Alexandria, Louisiana in 1959-60 while in the military, using a broom handle and a piece of rubber hose as the tee. Games lasted three innings, and T-ball has lasted through the intervening decades.

Born on Nov. 29, 1931 in New Lebanon, New York, and growing up in that community east of the capitol city, Albany, Dick began to work as a baseball umpire at the ripe young age of 12 - making 75 cents in pennies - and built his first ball field by the time he reached his teenage years. As a high school centerfielder he had great speed and a strong arm, a combination that helped lead to his awe-inspiring nickname, in addition to earning him all-star honors on three occasions. At the same time, Dick excelled on his high school basketball team and often played tag football.

After graduating, he served in the United States Air Force, devoting time while in the service to play for and manage basketball and football teams, and also was player/manager and catcher/outfielder for 11 years with the USAF fastpitch team. As sports director at Madigan Army Medical Center for 18 years, Dick helped develop the "Capri" exercise program for heart patients, a program used by many hospitals today.

Hassan has devoted immense time and resources to youth and athletics, helping to plan and build numerous parks around the Puget Sound while also donating great time, money and resources to various athletic programs at numerous local high schools. His work has led directly to ball parks in Monroe, Everett and Key Center, among other locations. As Parks & Recreation chairman for the City of Puyallup, he initiated and helped plan conversion of abandoned railroad property to become the "Rails for Trails" program. He has been active as a middle school, high school and college official in football, basketball, baseball, volleyball and both fastpitch and slowpitch softball for more than 50 years. Dick also served as a USAV volleyball official for 12 years in three states, including Washington, and in Korea and Europe, and he has umpired six national fastpitch and slowpitch tournaments.

A 1950 graduate of New Lebanon High School, Hassan still serves as a player/coach of a 55-and-over slowpitch team that has won back-to-back league championships the past two seasons. In fact, his athletic accomplishments and awards spans six decades, starting in 1959 and going to the present.