Authors, Film & TV Art Williams - First Black Umpire in the National League

Published on October 6th, 2023 | by Dr. Jerry Doby


Trailblazing National League Umpire Art Williams Featured in New Book and Mini Documentary

In the world of sports, history, and inspiration, Art Williams is a name that resonates. With more than fifty years having passed since he graced the field, sections of Art’s remarkable story have recently received well-deserved recognition. A related news segment earned a Daytime Emmy Award, while the book “Unbelievable! The Life Journey of Art Williams” has been adorned with four distinct awards across four diverse literary categories. Furthermore, the associated documentary short has been chosen for inclusion in twenty-five film festivals across the United States and abroad. Notably, September 18th has officially been proclaimed as Art Williams Day in the City of Bakersfield, California.

Art Williams’ journey began in the heart of Arkansas, where he was born into a family of sharecroppers. Following a move to California, Art’s life took a pivotal turn when he was signed by the Detroit Tigers organization straight out of high school. Although his pitching career was curtailed by an unfortunate injury, Art’s indomitable spirit persevered both in life and in the world of sports. Through unwavering determination and relentless effort, he eventually achieved his lifelong aspiration of becoming the First Black Umpire in the National League. This historic moment materialized on September 18, 1972, when Art officiated a game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres.

Art Williams - First Black Umpire in the National League

Art Williams – First Black Umpire in the National League

It’s noteworthy that this groundbreaking achievement occurred six years after Emmett Ashford’s historic American League debut and twenty-eight years before the merger of the American and National Leagues under the Major League Baseball umbrella in 2000.

In the more than five decades since Art and Emmett’s pioneering feats, only nine other African Americans have donned the mantle of Major League Baseball umpires. Despite Art’s untimely passing in 1979 at the age of 44, his legacy is ardently kept alive by his younger brother, the 82-year-old Dr. Audie Williams.

Mookie Betts, the dynamic outfielder and second baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers and one of Major League Baseball’s most versatile superstars, has emphasized the significance of infusing culture into the sport and creating opportunities for success. He expresses his commitment to the cause, “The goal I set out to accomplish is getting blacks in baseball, not necessarily on the field, but just around the field and maybe in the front office.” Betts continues, “All of us have talents, and it’s important for us to find them. I found mine in baseball, and I just want to use my platform to help others find theirs.”

Dr. Audie Williams, a veteran, retired coach, and educator, shares this mission. Through his company, Let’s Play Ball! Productions, he remains steadfast in his dedication to sharing his elder brother’s remarkable story, advocating for representation in baseball and beyond, and inspiring anyone with a dream to persevere, regardless of the obstacles they face.

On each September 18th and beyond, let us take a moment to honor Art Williams and his extraordinary accomplishments. Following this tribute, let us channel our energies into setting our own goals, nurturing our unique talents, sharing our gifts with the world, and motivating others to achieve greatness.

About Let’s Play Ball! Productions

Let’s Play Ball! Productions is a California-certified Small Business (SB Micro) and a Federally certified Veteran Owned Small Business (VOSB) with a singular focus on inspiring individuals to reach their fullest potential. The owner, Dr. Audie Williams, is a retired educator and coach and also happens to be the younger brother of Art Williams. He is not only the publisher but also the award-winning author of “Unbelievable! The Life Journey of Art Williams: Baseball’s First Black National League Umpire.”

About MWS & Associates

MWS & Associates is a California-certified Small Business (SB Micro) and a Federally certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) offering a wide array of B2B and B2G consulting services. Dr. M. Williams-Slaughter, the owner, is the daughter of Dr. Audie Williams and the niece of Art Williams. MWS & Associates played a pivotal role, serving as an editor for the book “Unbelievable! The Life Journey of Art Williams: Baseball’s First Black National League Umpire,” as the Executive Producer of the documentary short “Unbelievable! The Art Williams Story”.


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About the Author

Editor-in-Chief of The Hype Magazine, Media and SEO Consultant, Journalist, Ph.D. and retired combat vet. 2023 recipient of The President's Lifetime Achievement Award. Partner at THM Media Group. Member of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, the United States Press Agency and ForbesBLK.

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