An Umpire of Grace

CRYSTAL LAKE, IL (June 13, 2016) – A feature in a local newspaper highlights ECC pastor, basketball referee, and umpire Bill Orris’s grace-filled approach to ill-behaving players and coaches—as well as the grace they extend him as he continues to cope with the death of his son, Billy, who died in a motorcycle accident last August.

Covenant pastor Bill Orris chats with high school catcher between innings during a recent game. Photo by H. Rick Bamman/Shaw Media)

Covenant pastor Bill Orris chats with high school catcher between innings during a recent game. (Photo by H. Rick Bamman/Shaw Media)

The Northwest Herald article states that Orris can’t remember the last time he threw someone out of a baseball game and almost never hands out technical fouls while refereeing basketball. Sometimes, however, his fellow officials resist his approach.

When an umpire ejected a coach during a game that Orris also was officiating, the pastor tried to overturn the expulsion, saying, “We really should show him grace.”

The other umpire retorted, “I don’t care what you show him. As long as you show him the door.”

But compassion has repeatedly been shown to Orris, who pastors Hope Church here. The article recounts, “As a Glenbrook South pitcher warmed between innings, Orris counted the pitches silently to himself. After the fourth one, Orris called out to Glenbrook South catcher Billy Loggarakis, ‘Hey Billy. Throw it down.’ Suddenly, Orris was overcome with grief. When he said the name—Billy—so loud, tears welled in Orris’ eyes, as memories of his Billy came flooding back, hitting him like a fastball to the ribcage. For a moment, the game stopped. Maine South coach Bill Malano offered Orris a cup of water.”

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About the Author

Stan Friedman

Stan Friedman is the news and online editor for the Covenant Companion and is grateful for the opportunity to serve in a job that combines his newspaper and pastoral ministry experience. He has been to 15 Bruce Springsteen concerts in four cities and listened to “Thunder Road” an average of at least once a day for 41 years.

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2 Comments

  1. Great article Stan! Bill Orris is a great man and pastor. I am sure he is a good official and umpire as well!

    1. Thank you, Doug. The writer at the Northwest Herald is Mike DeFabo and can be reached at this email address. mdefabo@shawmedia.com If people liked the article, please write him. I don’t know him, but I’m sure it will make his day and be a great witness.

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