YUCCA VALLEY — Art Gutierrez, a volunteer for Tri-Valley Little League for 30 years or more, was surprised Saturday when a segment of the closing ceremony was dedicated to him.
Gutierrez, best known as an umpire, is a dependable sight during Little League and all-star season. He was standing among the players’ families during the ceremony when board members called him onto the field.
Softball player Ellie Kobaly and TVLL President Jason Kobaly jogged out to meet him.
“We as a community want to thank you for being so consistent and dependable in the past 30 years here,” Ellie told Gutierrez.
“You truly are a very incredible person, a knowledgeable person, a very wise person and most of all, a very kind person.”
Jason Kobaly presented Gutierrez with a plaque “In recognition of his 30 years of continuous service to the youth of our community.
“Your positive attitude, infectious smile and selfless dedication will be greatly missed,” the plaque reads. “We wish you all the best in your retirement.”
Gutierrez later remarked, “I started when my girls were playing back in the ’80s,” and when the board asked how long he’d been volunteering, he estimated 30 years “because it was a round number.”
For the crowd of kids and coaches, he had just a few short words.
“Are we having fun yet?” he asked the kids. They cheered in reply.
“Well, make sure you keep on going that way,” Gutierrez said.
“Thank you and God bless.”