- 21 NCAA Division I Regionals
- Eight NCAA Division I World Series
- Numerous NCAA Division II, III, & NAIA Regionals
- Numerous NJCAA Regionals
- 1979 Major League Umpire (during strike)
- 1984 Olympic Games Umpire
- International Baseball (USA vs. Japan, USA vs. Mexico, USA vs. Canada)
- Two terms as NCAA National Evaluator
- Served as NCAA Baseball Umpire Mechanics Committee
- Served as Coordinator of Umpires - Big West Conference
- 1982-98: Founder/Commissioner of Southern California Collegiate Umpires Association
- Three years as Umpire Coordinator for the Western Athletic Conference (WAC)
- Five years as Umpire Coordinator for the Pac-10 Southern Division
- Eight years as United States Baseball Federation Regional Representative/Umpire Evaluator
Getting to know Dale:
(Dale Williams died in September. The following article was written by Hall of Fame volunteer Kassidy Ketron prior to Williams’ Hall of Fame induction in 2013.)
No game is too big, no game is too small.
Dale Williams, the 2013 recipient of the National Collegiate Umpire Award, lived by this phrase when it came to his career as an official.
“This (award) has to be the greatest honor that an amateur umpire could receive,” he said. “One of the main reasons is the fact that my colleagues and coaches voted on this award and people that I’ve worked with, people that I’ve worked for, have voted me this award. That is really special. I feel humbled, honored and thrilled to receive this prestigious award.”
Williams began his umpiring career, unknowingly, when he was in high school.
While practicing with his high school baseball team, a group of firemen needed an umpire to officiate a game for them.
“Well, I never umpired before, but being a catcher, I was behind home plate and catching pitches and looking at pitches all the time,” he said. “So, I thought, ‘Well, maybe I would give this a try.’ So that’s really how I got into umpiring, got my start, was just umpiring a fireman’s recreation league when I was in high school.”
From there, Williams began volunteering at local recreation departments, then went on to officiate high school games, junior colleges, small colleges and Division I schools.
Once he got into Division I baseball, he began working more postseason games and eventually umpired eight Division I College World Series.
“Anything you do in life, you have to work hard at it to improve,” Williams said. “Officiating is the same way. You have to work hard. You have to work a lot of games for free and scrimmages for free just to get experience. Go to officials’ meetings, learn the rules, learn the mechanics, learn the philosophy and just work as hard as you can to improve. That old saying, ‘you get out of something what you put into it,’ is really appropriate for officiating.”
That hard work paid off for Williams in the mid-1980s.
In 1984, baseball was introduced into the Olympics, in which he was able to take part.
“I got to umpire in the Olympics in 1984 and that was one of the thrills of my life,” Williams said. “The 1984 Olympics was the first year they had baseball in the Olympics. The 1984 Olympics happened to be at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and, of course, I was born and raised in Los Angeles. So, it was extra special being one of the umpires in the Olympics in baseball and doing it in my hometown at Dodger Stadium in front of 56,000 people. That was really a thrill.”
During his career as an umpire, he said one of the better calls he made had nothing to do with baseball.
Instead, Williams said his best call was marrying his wife, Valerie.
“Valerie and I, through the years, have been a great team and Valerie has always been supportive of my officiating career,” he said.
In fact, Valerie was so supportive, she decided she wanted to experience what Dale went through in the world of officiating.
She joined the local high school girls’ softball umpiring association and Dale, then the coordinator of athletic officials for the Los Angeles Unified School District, assigned her to games.
The couple, he said, got a chance to umpire games right next to each other one afternoon when Dale could not find an umpire for a baseball game and had to go officiate himself. The baseball game he was going to happened to be at the same school Valerie was umpiring a softball game.
“I got to Gardena High School and sure enough, the softball field is right next to the baseball field,” Williams said. “So, the bottom line here: A husband and wife spent a beautiful Tuesday afternoon working ballgames together. I could look over and see Valerie umpiring the softball game. I was very proud of her.”
Another supporter of Williams’ career, Dick Runchey, was the first recipient of the National Collegiate Umpire Award. He said he now serves on the committee that is part of the voting process.
“I’m very honored and grateful that Dale is receiving the award,” Runchey said. “For me, personally, I’ve had goals that I’ve set for myself in umpiring and being in college baseball and one of those goals was to get Rich Fetchiet (2012 recipient) and Dale Williams inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame.
“Both those guys are definitely well-deserving candidates, and we hope to bring in many more because there are many umpires out there that are deserving of such an award,” Runchey said.
Runchey said he met Williams at the 1982 College World Series, where the two officiated together.
“I was totally impressed with Dale and the way he handled himself — the way he umpired,” Runchey said. “He’s a hell of an umpire and just the way he brought professionalism to our job and it’s an honor for me to be a friend of his. I’ve always said, in all our years of baseball that we’ve done together, we’re not going to remember scores and events and everything like that, we are going to remember the people we meet, and I was very fortunate to get a chance to and still have the friendship of Dale Williams.”
That same 1982 College World Series is one that Williams said he remembers well.
One particular game he was the first-base umpire, he said, between the University of Miami and Wichita State, in which Miami tricked the Shockers into thinking the ball had been thrown into the right field bullpen, allowing Miami to pick off Wichita State player Phil Stephenson (CBHOF, 2007) who was on first base. This play is known as “the phantom pick-off play.”
“I’m thinking to myself, ‘I must be going blind here. I never saw a ball,’” Williams said. “I just saw all this action and so I kept looking and there’s a lot of things that go through an umpire’s mind when starting to make a call. And I’m just thinking, ‘Where’s the ball?’”
Because of all the confusion, he said he came close to signaling time to stop the play.
“Luckily,” he said, “I did not do that because I turned back to see what was going on with Stephenson and what Stephenson was doing. Well, he’s running to second base. Now, the pitcher throws the ball to the shortstop, who’s covering second base and it’s an easy tag play to tag Stephenson out.”
Williams’ officiating career wasn’t limited to just baseball, which he retired from in 1998.
While in college at Cal State University Northridge, looking to make a few bucks, he began officiating Pop Warner football games after seeing an advertisement stuck to a tree.
That would eventually lead to a 24-year career as an official in the NFL, where he officiated three Super Bowls.
“The exposure and the experiences were just wonderful in the National Football League, and it helped financially, too,” Williams said. “That’s how I got into football, was just a sign on a tree one day and I think that was, you know, God has a plan for everybody. We don’t know what God has planned for us until we go through that plan.
“I know I’ve seen what God’s plan for me was and God’s plan for me was to be the best official that I could possibly be in whatever game I worked.”
Williams’ colleagues also have noticed his hard work and dedication throughout the years.
Rob Halvaks, deputy commissioner for the Big West Conference, works with Williams, who now serves as the coordinator of baseball umpires for the conference.
Halvaks said the two have been working together for most of his career and during that time he’s noticed the command Williams had during games.
Even when things would get heated during a game, Halvaks said Williams always was able to keep things under control.
“The few times I saw that happen he was very good at calming the situation,” he said. “He’s one of those guys that would, you know, would get a crew together to make sure that the call was right, and I think it was his communication skills. He wasn’t argumentative. He would listen to the coach. He laid out his position and the coaches knew how long they could go, but they respected his communication skills so when he said they were done, they were done and away they went.”
Halvaks said no matter what kind of game Williams was officiating, one thing remained the same.
“He always says, ‘No game is too big, no game is too small,’” he said. “Whether he was working that Monday night NFL football game or he was working a Tuesday high school game, he put his heart and soul into that game at that moment.”