SIOUX FALLS, S.D (KELO) — For close to 60 years, Allen or ‘Al’ Olson umpired all levels of baseball across South Dakota and beyond. He passed away this April. His birthday was last week, he would have been 76 years old.
As his family and friends tell us, Olson was a man who left an impression on everyone he met.
Al Olson dedicated most of his life to the game of baseball. His friends say his dedication earned himself the nickname ‘Mr. Sports’.
“Al was one of those guys that just loves sports. And if there was an event in town, you could probably see Al there,” said David Gassmen, friend and retired coach.
His nephew Sami Ibrahim says Olson made an impression on everyone he came across.
“Wherever he went, he knew he was going to reach out to anyone that he had any kind of connections with or wanted to make a connection with,” said Sami Ibrahim, nephew of Olson.
In addition to being an umpire and ball boy, Olson was known for always lending a hand off the field at sports games.
“One night he’d be sweeping the floors, the next night, he’d be at the gate, you know? So yeah, he was every place,” Gasman said.
Ibrahim says his uncle was loved throughout many communities across South Dakota.
“He was as dedicated as an usher at church, and funerals as he was, as a baseball umpire. And, you know, wherever he could be out among the community saying hi to people. That’s where he wanted to be,” Ibrahim said.
“Just a peach of a gentleman, you know, and so reliable, probably one of the most reliable people I’ve ever known,” Gasman said.
Olson’s passing leaves a big hole in the sports community, but his kindness and dedication will not be forgotten anytime soon throughout South Dakota.
Olson was the longest-tenured umpire for the South Dakota Umpires Association. He officially became licensed as an umpire in 1968.