Billy Evans

Although born in Chicago, William George Evans (1884-1956) grew up in the Youngstown, Ohio, area. Evans matriculated at Cornell University. At Cornell he played four sports but only as a sideline. His future was charted clearly: He was going to be a lawyer.

After two years of college, however, Evans had to leave Cornell abruptly when his father died. He got a job as a reporter on the Youngstown Vindicator. Soon he moved up to the sports editor's position, where one of his assignments was to cover local semipro baseball games.

Hall of Famer Billy Evans
Billy Evans was instrumental in raising the
number of umpires for World Series games.

At one of them he was drafted out of the stands to officiate when the regular umpire failed to show up. Although not smitten by the work, Evans continued doing it as a way of supplementing his income.

In 1905, while still working as a sportswriter, Billy joined the umpiring staff of the Ohio-Pennsylvania League. His work in that circuit was so impressive that he was hired by the American League for 1906. Barely 22 years old at the time, Evans became the youngest full-time umpire in major-league history.

In his second season as an umpire, Billy nearly died when he was struck in the head by a bottle thrown by an irate fan at a Detroit-St. Louis game. The incident contributed to the banning of bottles at big-league games. In 1910, Evans became the first active baseball figure to write a regular newspaper column. It proved so successful that it was syndicated to more than 100 newspapers.

On the field, Evans was instrumental in the number of umpires in a World Series game being increased in 1909 from two to four -- at the time it was still common for umpires to work regular-season games alone. Not above being pugnacious despite his "college-boy" image, Billy took Ty Cobb up on a challenge to a postgame fight in 1921 and emerged the loser but with Cobb's everlasting respect.

In 1927, Evans resigned his umpire's post to take a newly created job as general manager of the Cleveland Indians. Eight years later, refusing to accept a pay cut during the Depression, Billy left the Tribe to become farm director of the Red Sox.

During World War II, Evans served as president of the Southern Association. In 1946 he returned to the major leagues as vice president and general manager of the Tigers, retiring in 1951. In 1973, Evans became the third umpire to be elected to the Hall of Fame.

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