Longtime Eastern Maine baseball umpire and football referee Ralph Damren hopes to have a new skip in his step when he returns to officiating duty this year.
Damren, 68, had right hip replacement surgery on Feb. 4, and while he anticipates missing much if not all of the upcoming high school baseball season he hopes to be back umpiring American Legion games this summer before returning to the gridiron to referee the 2014 high school football season come September.
Damren, also one of the last baseball umpires in the region to use an outside chest protector, had experienced decreased mobility during games in recent years.
“I was trying to hobble around, but it was getting painful to walk,” he said.
Among those Damren consulted before opting for hip replacement surgery was current Thornton Academy of Saco baseball coach Ray Petit, also a football official.
“He got a new hip last January  and said he was fine for football,” said Damren. “By March he was pitching batting practice for his baseball team.”
Damren said recently he is feeling a lot better and following an “aggressive” physical therapy regimen.
“I should have had it done several years ago,” he said.