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Groundbreaking umpire Charlie Williams dies at 61

CHICAGO -- Charlie Williams, the first black umpire to work
behind home plate in a World Series game, has died. He was 61.

Williams, of Chicago, died Sept. 10 of complications from
diabetes at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.

"He recognized that it was hard being a black umpire, that
there were times that people had nasty racial things to say," said
Diana Williams, his wife of 26 years. "But the main thing is that
he wanted to do a good job. He loved it."

Williams was the home-plate umpire for the marathon Game 4 of
the 1993 World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays.

At 4 hours, 14 minutes, is was the longest game in World Series
history. It also set records for most runs by both teams (29) and
most runs scored by a losing team (14). Toronto won the game at
Veterans Stadium 15-14 and took the Series in six games.

"He called it the game from hell, because it went on so long,"
Diana Williams said.

Williams, who was born in Denver and grew up in California. He
attended umpire school while working the night shift at a factory.
After a stint in the minors, he reached the major leagues in 1982.

Other highlights of Williams' career included the 1985 and 1995
All-Star games, the 1989 NL championship series between the San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs, and the 1997 NLCS between the
Florida Marlins and the Atlanta Braves.

"He was just a great partner," said umpire Joe West, who first
worked with Williams in the Instructional League in the mid-1970s.
"That's the big thing umpires look for -- working together."

Besides his wife, Williams is survived by a son, daughter and
grandchildren. His funeral was Friday at Holy Cross Episcopal
Church in Pittsburgh.