EVANS, WILLIAM GEORGE "BILLY (10 February 1884-23 January 1956) was a Hall of Fame umpire, sports writer and sports executive.

Evans was born in Chicago to John and Mary (Thomas) Evans. The family relocated to Youngstown when Evans was a child, when his father went to work for the Carnegie Steel mill there. As a youth, Evans was friends with the Warner brothers, who would go on to form the studio of the same name.

Evans graduated from the Rayen School and attended Cornell before returning home upon his father’s death. He started work as the sports editor of the Youngstown Vindicator, and a chance occurrence led him into umpiring, when an official didn’t show up for a baseball game he was covering.

Evans umpired local games in the Youngstown area before being tabbed as an American League umpire. Nicknamed the boy umpire for his youth (22 when he started umpiring in the major leagues), Evans quickly distinguished himself in a 22-year umpiring career, which included six World Series. Evans continued to write while he was an umpire, covering sporting events and writing a regular column. He was also the author of two books, Umpiring from the Inside and Baseball’s Knotty Problems.

Billy Evans, Walter Johnson, and Babe Ruth at League Park, 1925
Courtesy of Cleveland Memory
Billy Evans, Walter Johnson, and Babe Ruth at League Park, 1925

He made his home in the Cleveland area, and was even a boxing commissioner in Cleveland for a time. Throughout the 1920s, Evans was mentioned for many managing jobs, but when he finally retired from umpiring in 1927, it was to take a new job: General Manager for the CLEVELAND INDIANS, the first person in major league history to have a job with that title. He served as Indians general manager until 1935, and then took a job as the Red Sox farm director.

He left the Red Sox to return to Cleveland in 1941 to become general manager of the NFL’s CLEVELAND RAMS, which had just been purchased by Dan Reeves. After a year with the Rams, Evans became president of the Southern Association minor league. He spent four years in that role before being named general manager and vice president of the Detroit Tigers, a role he filled until his retirement in 1951.

Evans married Hazel Baldwin in 1908, and they had one son, Robert. Evans was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973, at the time the third umpire to be so honored.

Vince Guerrieri

Last updated: 5/30/2023


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