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'Just a lovable teddy bear': Warner Robins Little League community reacts to COVID-19-related death of umpire

The Warner Robins American Little League announced on Facebook that longtime member Roger Armstrong died.

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — Warner Robins Little League players, coaches, and fans have heavy hearts. 

Little League umpire Buster Hickam says, "The children who are now coach, who are now parents, will certainly miss this man."

Tuesday, the Warner Robins American Little League announced on Facebook that a member was infected with the coronavirus. 

RELATED: Warner Robins Little League: Person associated with league tests positive for COVID-19

Just a day later, the longtime league member Roger Armstrong died.

Hickam says, "I believe he was a part of it when baseballs were square. He's been here that long."

Fellow umpires Buster Hickam and Justin Phelps enforced the rules of baseball alongside Armstrong for 10 years. 

"Mr. Roger was our Santa Claus umpire. Kids looked up to him because he had this huge, huge gray beard, and he was just a lovable teddy bear," says Hickam.

They say he was in his 60s and faced health issues over the years, but this is the last thing they expected. 

The news of his death hits home for everyone involved in the little league community.

Warner Robins Mayor Randy Toms says, "It's not a good day for this to happen to somebody that you've known for so long and been friends with for so long."

Mayor Toms knew him as a player, coach, umpire, and close friend since he was 4 years old. 

He says, "We grew up in the little league as most of us in this town did."

Mayor Toms believes this loss makes the coronavirus epidemic much more real.

"I think this should put the exclamation point to the fact that this is serious, and we all need to do everything we can to not be the next victim of this horrible virus."

Hickam says once large crowds are able to gather again, they plan on having a memorial for Armstrong.

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