The Obit For Charlie Williams

Charles H. Williams / Major League umpire, onetime Beltzhoover resident

Monday, September 12, 2005

By Steve Twedt, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Former Major League Baseball umpire and one-time Beltzhoover resident Charles H. "Charlie" Williams, 61, died of a heart attack yesterday in a Chicago hospital.

The first black umpire to call balls and strikes in a World Series game, Mr. Williams was behind the plate in the record-breaking Game Four of the 1993 series when Philadelphia took two five-run leads only to lose to Toronto, 15-14, at Veterans Stadium.

The game, which gave the Blue Jays a commanding 3-1 series lead, lasted more than four hours.

"He said it was the game from hell," Mr. Williams' wife, Diana, recalled yesterday. Toronto won the series in six games.

Mr. Williams worked in the major leagues from 1982 to 2000 before health problems forced him into retirement. In addition to the '93 World Series, Mr. Williams umpired at the 1985 and 1995 All-Star games, as well as the 1981 and 1999 division series.

Mr. Williams was still working in the minor leagues when a chance encounter near a Chatham Center magazine stand in 1978 led to his meeting his future wife.

"He had this beautiful smile and really pretty eyes," Diana Williams recalled.

They'd barely met when Mr. Williams asked her directly if she were married.

"I loved him right away for that, because that showed principles," she said. "If I had been married, he would not have talked to me."

A year later, they married and were living in Beltzhoover.

Her job with Trans World Airlines took them to Chicago a few years later. Although her husband traveled extensively throughout the baseball season, her job with the airline allowed her to go with him often.

Mr. Williams had been ill for about 18 months, suffering with complications from diabetes and kidney failure.

The Williamses did not have any children together, although Mr. Williams has two children from a previous marriage, Drake, 40, of Lakeland, Fla., and Gabrielle, 31, of Spring Lake, Mich. He also is survived by six sisters.

Some funeral arrangements, which are being handled by the Spriggs-Watson Funeral Home in Homewood, are incomplete but a service is being planned for 11 a.m. Friday at Holy Cross Episcopal Church, Kelly Street, Homewood.