GLASGOW — Joseph Jackson Shirley, more widely known as “Joey Jack”, died on Saturday in Glasgow. The well-known umpire and referee leaves behind a legacy which will be remembered fondly by area coaches and athletes.
Shirley umpired baseball games in the fourth region for over 24 years, and he called basketball games for 26 years. His personality and performance, especially in baseball, made him a fixture in regional athletics.
“He was a good guy first and foremost,” Glasgow baseball coach Sam Royse said of Shirley. “He umpired and called games for the right reasons, and he served many players very well in the region. Joey Jack was the type of person who showed up always early and was never late. He leaves a legacy like any umpire would.”
“You knew that when Joey Jack was umpiring it was going to be a well-called game,” Royse continued. “He knew the rules well, and had a good strike zone. he always did his best for student athletes. We are really going to miss him.”
Shirley most commonly worked ball games in Barren County and surrounding counties. He was a loving member of Big Blue Nation, and a member of Edmonton Methodist Church.
In addition to his mother, survivors include his wife of 36 years Bonita; one daughter, Kari Hughes husband Jameson of Louisville; one son, Richey Gawjarone of Glasgow; three grandchildren, Aaden Hughes, Avery Hughes and Isabella Grace Gawjarone; sister-in-law, Kathy Shirley of Edmonton; aunt, Susan Chambers of Edmonton; niece, Susan Nichols husband James of Vermont, according to his obituary.
In addition to his father, he was preceded in death by a brother, Tommy Lane Shirley.
“I immediately became friends with him due to his personality,” area referee Joe Plunk said of Shirley. “He was known so well for his knowledge and wisdom for the game, and he was just so funny.”
Plunk first moved to the region in 2008 where he then worked alongside Shirley for 11 seasons working basketball games in the area. Like in baseball, “Joey Jack” made quite the impression on the basketball court.
“The biggest thing I learned from him was how important relationships are with coaches and athletes,” Plunk said. “He could just find a way to make people laugh. As an official, he truly did it all.”
Alternate expressions of sympathy can be made in the form of memorial contributions to the Kentucky High School Officials Association, P. O. Box 1616 Bowling Green KY 42102.