BREWER, Maine —- There was a familiar face serving as the base umpire during Friday’s softball game between Brewer High School and Lawrence at Fairfield at Coffin Field.
John Shoppe of Lamoine was making the calls on the bases just two months and 11 days after suffering a heart attack refereeing at an Eastern Maine basketball tournament game at the Bangor Auditorium.
He suffered a second, less severe heart attack while being treated for the initial one at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.
He has shed 22 pounds thanks to a restrictive diet and he hasn’t lost his sense-of-humor.
“I set a record for shortest refereeing stint at the tournament. Two-thirds of a game,” joked Shoppe.
He has umpired several games lately, both college and high school, but he won’t be able to call balls and strikes until next week.
He explained that the doctors were concerned about him getting hit in the chest by a softball while calling balls and strikes but he received the okay to do so on Friday.
He considers himself lucky to be alive.
He has had two surgical procedures to clear his eight blocked arteries, he said, and has had stents implanted.
The 61-year-old Shoppe will head to Florida late next week where he will see his daughter, son-in-law and 19-month old granddaughter.
“And I’ve been given the OK to lift my 26-pound granddaughter,” grinned Shoppe.
He walks regularly but said he doesn’t have muscle tone and is “very weak.”
But he is grateful for the doctors, nurses and staff at the Eastern Maine Medical Center and the outpouring of support he has received.
He is also cherishing his time on the diamond.
“It’s fun [to be back],” said Shoppe, who intends to officiate volleyball and basketball games as well as softball games.