Billy Evans Dies in Miami at 71;
Major League Umpire 22 Years
MIAMI, Fla., Jan. 23 (AP) — William George (Billy) Evans, widely known baseball executive and formerly an American League umpire for twenty-two years, died tonight in North Shore Hospital. He was 71 years old.
Mr. Evans, who was visiting his son here, suffered a stroke last Saturday and was taken to the hospital at that time.
Mr. Evans was born in Chicago on Feb. 10, 1884. He played college football and also played baseball in some semi-professional leagues, but never played the game as a professional.
Mr. Evans did considerable writing and, for a time, operated his own syndicate. He also contributed to national magazines.
Mr. Evans, who made his home in Cleveland, had come to Miami with his wife two weeks ago to visit their son, Robert B. Evans, sports director of radio station WKAT.
Noted for Commentaries
Billy Evans was noted for his pithy commentaries on the umpire-player relationship.
He summed it all up once when, after shouting, "Foul ball!" the ball in question hit a pebble and rolled fair. In response to howls of wrath from the dugout of the team at bat, Mr. Evans said: "Well, it would have been a fair ball yesterday and it will be fair tomorrow and for all years to come. But right now, unfortunately, it's foul because that's the way I called it."
What his statement amounted to was an admission that, although an umpire cannot always be right, he must stick by his decision.
Mr. Evans studied at Cornell University. However, he left before graduating and took a $15-a-week job as a sports reported for The Youngstown (Ohio) Vindicator.
While reported a baseball game in the Class D Ohio-Pennsylvania League in 1904, Mr. Evans was drafted to fill an umpiring vacancy. He did the job well and was hired as a regular at $15 a game. Two years later, he was called upon to work for the American League. He was said to have been the only major league umpire who never had played professional baseball himself.
For twenty-two years he was one of the outstanding umpires in the junior circuit, and was rated as a master of the diplomatic, rather than the belligerent solution to the perennial "rhubarb."
Mr. Evans retired from umpiring in 1928 to become general manager of the Cleveland Indians. The club finished in the first division in seven of the eight seasons he was with it. He went to the Boston Red Sox in 1936, and served until 1941 as director of its minor league clubs: It was at his suggestion that the Red Sox bought the Louisville club of the American Association, primarily to acquire the services of Harold (Peewee) Reese. The Red Sox, however, let Mr. Reese slip away to Brooklyn.
After a term as general manager of the former Cleveland Rams of the National Football League, Mr. Evans became president of the Southern Association in 1943. In 1946, be became executive vice president and general manager of the Detroit Tigers. He resigned this post in July, 1951.