Umpire Profile

Billy Evans
B: Feb 10, 1884 Chicago, IL
D: Jan 23, 1956

Miami, FL

Resume / Vitals
A.L. Umpire 1906-1927
# World Series 5
Player No ML Service 

Biography / Info

  • Billy Evans was an American League umpire for over 20 years. He was a finicky dresser on and off the field. and employed diplomacy in disputes. For much of his tenure as umpire, Evans wrote columns for various news outlets. The column became so popular it was syndicated in more than 100 newspapers.  
  • Born in Chicago, the Evans family moved to Pennsylvania before finally settling in Youngstown Ohio. Billy's father became the superintendent of the Ohio Steel Works and soon put Billy on a path of education. He enrolled him in Rayen Prep. His grades were satisfactory enough to be accepted to Cornell University as a law student. While there, Billy played football, track, boxing and baseball. His baseball coach there at school was future hall of famer, Hughey Jennings.
  • Evans was forced to leave school after 2 years when his father died. He landed a job through a friend of his fathers as a reporter for the Youngstown Vindicator. Soon he became sports editor and was making $18 per week.
  • One of his regular assignments was to cover the games of the Ohio Protective League, a semi-pro circuit. In 1903, at a game between Youngstown and Homestead, the assigned umpire failed to show up. The managers of the two clubs approached Evans for his services and after being offered $15 for the day, he accepted. For the next 2 years, Evans umpired games and supplemented his income from the newspaper.
  • In 1905, Evans broke into organized ball umpiring games in the Ohio-Pennsylvania League. St. Louis Browns manager Jim McAleer on a scouting assignment spotted Evans and thought highly of his demeanor and work. He recommended him to American League President Ban Johnson and a meeting was arranged. Johnson was so  impressed and offered the 22 year old a contract for the 1906 season which would pay him $1800. 
  • A near riot followed a Browns-Tigers game in 1907. Billy was hit on the head by a bottle thrown from the stands. The result was a fracture of the skull and put Evans in the hospital for several days. His condition was critical at times and the family of the 18 year old boy who threw the bottle stayed at his bedside until the crisis was over. Evans, against Ban Johnson's suggestions, never filed charges against the boy.
  • Evans was credited with instituting the practice of having a 4 man umpiring crew for World Series games. It stemmed from an incident he was involved in in the 1909 World Series between the Pirates and Tigers. The Pirates had installed some temporary seats to alleviate the overflow crowd problems. Ground rules were established that a ball hit or bouncing into the permanent stands would be a homer, and if it landed or bounced into the temporary stands it would be a double. In Game 2, the Pirates Dots Miller hit a ball down the right field line which landed fair but bounced into the stands. Evans and his counterpart Bill Klem, did not see where the ball had landed. Evans and Klem wound up asking fans in the stands where it had landed. It was determined the the ball landed in the temporary seats and it resulted in Evans calling it a double.  The Pirates lost the game in decided fashion 7-2, but Evans concluded that having the 2 reserve umpires on the field watching the foul lines, instead of sitting in the stands on standby, would help eliminate a fiasco like that again. Two days later, starting with Game 4, there would be a four man umpiring crew for the remaining games of the Series. In 1910, it became the standard for World Series games.
  • In September of 1921, Evans called Tigers legend Ty Cobb out on a stolen base attempt in a game versus the Senators  The fiery Cobb challenged him to a fight and the angry Evans accepted. Few witnesses saw the main event under the grandstands, but there was no doubt Cobb got the best of him. 

Post Umpiring Career

  • In 1927, Evans accepted the general mangers job with the Cleveland Indians, thus terminating his career as umpire. He stayed on board for 8 seasons but when they tried to reduce his salary after the 1935 season, he resigned. 
  • Three months later, he became farm director for the Boston Red Sox and had a profound liking for shortstop Pee Wee Reese, but after the Red Sox obtained Reese they sold him to the Brooklyn Dodgers, an action that led to Evans resignation.
  • In 1941, Evans accepted the general managers job with the Cleveland Rams of the National Football League. He returned to baseball in 1942 as President of the Southern Association based in Texas. He five year tenure was successful in turning around the league even with the manpower shortages  created by World War II.
  • In 1946, Billy accepted a five year contract from the Detroit Tigers as vice president/general manger. Evans was replaced in 1961 by Charlie Gehringer and he retired from baseball at the age of 67.

Hall of Fame

  • In 1973, Evans became only the third umpire elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame, joining Bill Klem and Tom Connolly.

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