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.
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.”