Skip to content

78-year-old retired state trooper loves to umpire

'I like the people. I like the kids. I love being in the game,' - 78-year-old Jerry Cook

From 1969 to 1995, Jerry Cook was a trooper with the Michigan State Police. 

Cook had quite the journey around the Great Lake State while being a trooper.

He started in Wayland, then went to Flint, then came to Sault Ste Marie for a while, then back to Detroit when they started the freeway patrol.

He eventually ended up back in the Sault where he finished out his career in 1995 and currently lives in Chippewa County.

But that is not the only job he had while being a trooper.

Back in 1979, his daughter was playing on the Sault Ste Marie JV basketball team. Cook was at the game and the game officials never showed up. Sault Ste. Marie was playing Marquette.

That is when the athletic director approached him to see if he would help out.

"I had absolutely no experience as an official.   But I thought I did a great job," Cook chuckled.

And here he is today. Forty-three years later, the 78-year-old Cook is not ready to hang up the umping gear just yet.

"I like the people. I like the kids. I love being in the game," Cook said.

Of course, sometimes parents, coaches and even players can become unruly and argumentative, but Cook takes it all in stride.

"The last couple of years, coaches, parents, kids have all been fantastic.  When I come off the field, they will thank us for helping out," added Cook.

Forty-three years is a long time to umpire.  While Cook credits the people and players at the fields or in the gyms for making it fun for him, Cook was given the opportunity to be a part of the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) girls' high school softball finals last month.

He had no second thoughts of missing that opportunity.

"It meant a lot. Obviously, it's something you strive for to be a part of something so special for the girls and parents," Cook said.

In the Division 2 Finals softball match-up between the Gaylord Blue Devils and the Vicksburg Bulldogs, Cook was behind the plate.

"There was no yelling or complaints from the parents, players or coaches that I heard during the game.  They were very respectful.  Well, there was one coach that heckled me a bit between innings.  That was Rudyard Baseball Coach Billy Mitchell.  He was doing it for fun.  It was funny," continued Cook.

As for the excitement of being part of such an important game, Cook said it was hard to explain.

"How can I describe it?  It's just indescribable. It is at Michigan State stadium. You looked around and I was just in awe.  It was just awesome," Cook added.

At the same time, Cook said you can't get too caught up in the moment.

"You have to do what got you there.  And that is what the entire umping crew did," said Cook.

Cook hopes to retire in a couple years, but noted "we will have to see about that!"