Memories of umpire strike a chord: Chandler called games for Dixie Youth ball

Published 10:27 am Thursday, September 3, 2015


For more than 50 years, the voice of Billy Ray Chandler sounded over the baseball fields of Lincoln County.

Chandler, who had to give up his umpiring passion due to health issues a few years ago, died Tuesday at age 74. In his memory, Facebook lit up with memories many had of him, either from their own days playing Dixie Youth ball or as parents. His legacy touched many in the area over the years.

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“Mr. Billy Ray, he was a man of a big heart and small stature,” Joe Portrey said. “He loved children; he loved interacting with those baseball players.”

Portrey, who has served as the coordinator of umpires for the Dixie Youth League for several years, said Chandler was dedicated to the youth of the county, and he never had a cross word for a player.

“He’d work on a roof all day long and come on out and work at least two games,” he said.

Donald Case served as umpire alongside Chandler for many years.

“Me and Billy Ray, we used to call a lot of ball games years ago,” he said.

Case said Chandler had a certain style of calling ballgames that involved his whole body.

“Kids just went crazy,” he said.

Case said Chandler was a mentor to a lot of younger umpires.

“I always looked up to him,” he said. “I never copied his technique; you couldn’t hardly do that.”

Pete Dixon, another fellow umpire, said Chandler had a way of speaking that kept the players entertained.

“He’d say something like ‘Ooh yeah, he got you that time; you’re out of there,’” he said.

But he always remained impartial and fair and treated both sides the same.

“He was just a good guy,” Dixon said. “Everybody enjoyed being around him.”

Graveside services for Chandler will be held Friday at Macedonia Baptist Church at 10 a.m.