Dale Williams, a 24-year NFL head linesman and College World Series baseball umpire, passed away September 18, 2022, after a long illness. He was 82. Williams had a sparkling officiating career at a high level in two sports. He officiated NFL football from 1980-2003, and umpired college baseball for 32 years.
A graduate of California State University, Northridge, Williams played baseball for the school. He took up officiating and rose quickly through the ranks, officiating in the Pac-8 and joining the NFL in 1980. He wore number 8 for most of his career. During his NFL tenure, he worked on crews lead by referees Ben Dreith, Red Cashion, Fred Silva, Howard Roe, Ron Blum, Dick Hantak, Mike Carey and Larry Nemmers.
He assisted Ben Dreith in breaking up the fight that lead to Dreith’s famous penalty announcement.
During his 24-year NFL career, Williams worked 348 regular season games and 23 playoff games: 5 wild card games, 12 divisional contests, 3 conference championships and Super Bowls XX, XXVI, and XXXVII. His first playoff game was in his second season and it was a classic — the Epic in Miami. While he didn’t signal the touchdown, Williams (wearing number 23 during the 1979-81 numbering system) followed the signature play down the sideline.
An epic baseball umpiring career
For 32 years, Williams was a college baseball umpire, advancing to the Division I level. He worked the College World Series a total of eight times, and he worked the 1984 Olympic Games. In 2013 he was honored with the National Collegiate Umpire Award.
Here is footage of him working the plate in the 1988 College World Series.
After his umpiring career, Williams continued to supervise and mentor the next generation of umpires, serving as a supervisor in the Big West, Western Athletic and Pac-10 conferences.
Williams survived his wife, Valerie, will be remembered as a friend and mentor to many umpires and fellow football officials. Our sympathies to all who knew him and loved him.
The following statement is from the NFL Referees Association.
We are saddened to share that Dale Williams passed away peacefully in Palm Desert, California on September 18, 2022, succumbing to severe respiratory and breathing issues that he battled for the last several years. He leaves behind a daughter, and we ask that you keep her and all of Dale’s friends and family in your thoughts.
Dale was a head linesman (#8) in the NFL for 23 years, and he worked a number of postseason assignments.
In addition to his football officiating, Dale was a renowned college baseball umpire. He worked numerous college baseball playoff games in Omaha and was selected to the College Baseball Hall of Fame.
In 2013, the National College Baseball Hall of Fame named Dale its recipient of the National Collegiate Umpire Award, honoring a lifetime of excellence in umpiring.
“During my umpiring career, God has blessed me with great friends, experiences and success,” Dale told the Hall of Fame’s website at the time.
No services are planned at this time.
Some images for this post provided by Mark Evans