Roger Shaw “Living the Dream”

Published 2:52 pm Friday, August 11, 2023

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BY C.Y. Peters
 Born on November 19, 1955, Roger Shaw is beginning 45 years as a TSSAA Official.  He currently works girls’ fast-pitch softball, high school football and youth club basketball in Johnson County on Saturdays.  Roger and his wife, Barbara, live just across from Unaka High School on Bill Lewis Road.  He played football and baseball for Unaka High School.  In baseball, he caught great pitchers like Eddie Holly and Malcolm Kress.   In football, Roger started out as a center, and worked his way into the full-back and linebacker positions.   Alone side Kim Richardson, the one-two punch of the Rangers running backs, was a good combo.
Roger played for Coach Ronnie Taylor and Claude Holsclaw.  One game he recalled was scoring the winning run against Happy Valley great Joe McClain.  “Holsclaw told us not to swing, and in the later innings, he was getting tired; we got the green light, Shaw singled, stole second and scored the winning run on a base hit from a teammate.  It was only McClain’s second loss of the season.
   Teammate Kim Richardson said, “Roger Shaw was as good as any player I ever saw, he did everything right, exactly what the coach told him to do, and he was a better baseball player.”  Roger was selected All-Conference in baseball as a senior, and Honorable mention as a junior and senior for football.
   When Roger graduated from Unaka High School in 1974, he began working at Iodent and played centerfield on the softball team.  He started his umpiring career in 1979 after he missed a couple of grounders, and was taking abuse on the field.  He figured if he was going to take abuse, he would get paid for it. Roger joined the TSSAA and became an official in several sports.
He started umpire baseball for many years and began football in 1981.   Since then, he has worked many playoffs in all three sports and worked in three state football championship games.  He worked the year (2019) in Cookeville when Elizabethton won the State title.  Roger worked his first NSA World tournament in Chattanooga, and since has worked in 13 ASA Nationals.
     After 13 years with Iodent, they closed their factory here and moved operations to Michigan. Shaw took a job at American Air Filter,  and would end up as a  Correctional Sergeant at Northeast Correctional Complex in Mountain City, where he recently retired.
     “I started out working baseball with Gene Whitson; he taught me a lot about the game.”  You have to have thick skin to call a game. You’re 50 percent right and 50 percent wrong on every call.
     Over the past couple of years, Roger has overcome injuries to both knees, and come back from open heart surgery.  Shaw blew out his left knee in a Science Hill game, then the right at a Unicoi football game; remember the one where they scored 98 points?  Then a short time later, he had a 90 percent and 2-70 percent blockage in his heart.
It was questioned whether Shaw could return to the job he loved.  He was told he couldn’t do anything for three months after the open heart surgery.  On the first weekend after the three months, Shaw returned to the field, softball on the weekends and he’s ready for Friday night football.
    “I feel better now than I have in a long time,” Shaw said. He’s gearing up for football season, which begins on August 19. He’s already been working scrimmages and can’t wait to get back on the field. “I’ll probably die on the ball field,” Shaw said, “That’s my life.”
     Roger and Barbara have one son, Jason, who is the Elizabethton Police Chief, and his wife, Melissa and they have one daughter Gracie.  Shaw enjoys working the big puzzles in his off time away from sports.  He has officiated for kids of all ages, boys clubs, youth leagues, and middle and high school.

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