At five feet tall, Eddie Parra may not be large in stature, but in the District 2 Little League world, he is a giant.

Parra, 68, of Appleton is one of the more recognizable faces among a crew of talented umpires in the district. And Parra, who is the umpire-in-chief for District 2 for the third straight year, is being rewarded, for the third time, for his work on the field.

Parra has been selected to umpire in the Senior League softball East Regional tournament, for girls ages 15-16, Friday through Thursday, July 29 through Aug. 4. in Worcester, Mass.

It is the third time he has been selected to the umpiring crew of a regional tournament, also taking part in the Junior League regional softball tournament in Syracuse, N.Y. in 2008 and the Little League 11- and 12-year-old regional softball tournament in Albany, N.Y. in 2009.

Parra has been umpiring 30 years and also was behind the plate for the state Little League 10- and 11-year-old baseball championship game between Scarborough and Dirigo Wednesday afternoon in Lincolnville.

“It is a big honor for me, just as well as the other umps, because we work so hard for it,” he said of working in the Senior League tourney. “We start working from April or May until now, and I’ve still got another week to go. It is a big honor to go represent Maine and our little community here in District 2.”

Little League umpiring is strictly volunteer-based and unpaid, with umpires paying for their own mileage to travel to games and uniforms. In Parra’s case, for the regional tournament, he is compensated simply with a room for the week, breakfast and dinner, according to District 2 administrator Dana Verge.

“All of us really love the sport,” Parra said. “We all have to pay for our expenses out of pocket. For example, I’ve gone all over the state this year, it came out of my pocket. Gas money and everything, uniforms, all comes out of my pocket. We don’t get paid for anything.”

As if his efforts helping local youths were not enough, Parra was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer in 2009 and continued to umpire games through nine months of chemotherapy.  Parra has been cancer free for more than a year and now has regular checkups every six months.

While dealing with his diagnosis and continuing to umpire admittedly was a challenge, Parra credited his work with the players as helping him work through the ordeal.

“What really kept me going was the kids,” he said. “I couldn’t let them down and I was there for them. In a lot of ways, it’s very rewarding. They don’t forget you, and you don’t forget them.”

Parra went on to thank the many umpires who work with him in District 2, who rarely, if ever, turn him down when they are asked to do a game. As umpire-in-chief, Parra is responsible for recruiting umpires and putting together crews for games.

“Any spur of the moment I’ll call them up to do a game and they won’t say no,” he said.

He also thanked Verge, who “doesn’t get much credit for everything he does for Little League.”

Verge, who, between umpiring and his work with the district, has been involved in Midcoast Little League for over 45 years, said, “There is no one more deserving,” in speaking of Parra being asked to umpire in the Senior League softball championships.

“I tell a lot of people that the pants and shirts Eddie gets are from Toys ‘R’ Us because of his size,” said Verge. “And that is all in fun because there is no person more dedicated to Little League in the state of Maine than Eddie Parra. We need more people like him. He’s done a great job for us and he’d work every day of the week, whatever is needed.”

Parra, who often works behind the plate, but also can be found in the field working the bases, is typically the same size — sometimes shorter — than the youngsters playing on the field. But the longtime Midcoast resident relishes that, along with the relationship he has with the players.

Parra often can be seen talking to the players, always offering help when needed. The Midcoast youngsters faces usually light up when they see Parra on the field as one of their umpires. In most cases, the children and Parra have a relationship built on mutual respect and the love of the game.

“They think I’m one of them because I’m about their size,” he said. “But I like that. I’m one of those faces they don’t forget.”

Village NetMedia Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at mhaskell@villagesoup.com.