Casavant, William (Bill) (2014)
Bill Casavant got his start in umpiring at the age of 15, working pee wee baseball games in his hometown of Holyoke, Mass. After graduating from the University of Maine at Presque Isle nine years later, he joined the Northern Maine Board of Approved Baseball Umpires for a career that has now spanned 43 years. In June, Casavant worked a regional final for the 26th time and a state championship for the 23rd time. His knowledge of the rules and ability to apply them, as well as the integrity and professionalism he displays, put him among the elite statewide. Casavant was brought onto the Northern Maine board in 1971 by Peter Webb, who was the clinician at the time. Casavant credited the veteran officials for their help with mechanics and positioning and his first game that spring was actually the opener of a college doubleheader between the University of Maine at Machias and the University of Maine at Presque Isle. “Most of the umpires were teachers and it was an early start on a weekday and they couldn’t get out of school,” Casavant recalls. “So Pete .checked with the UMM athletic director about me working and he said no problem. I worked the first game on the bases and then one of the veterans was available for game two, but the game went smoothly.” His love of the game of baseball came early as well. At the age of 7, due to a lack of players, he competed in the pee wee league meant for 8-10 year-olds. He took part in summer leagues all the way through school and even though he didn’t play on his high school team, he did suit up his freshman year at UMPI under Frank McGrath. Casavant graduated from Holyoke High in 1965, worked for two years and then moved north to enroll at UMPI, graduating in 1971. His first teaching job was at Loring Air Force Base’s Damon School for one year, and then he spent the next seven at Limestone. He coached varsity basketball for all seven and varsity baseball for the final five. The rumors of the closing of Loring AFB led Casavant to pursue a job at Northern Maine Vocational Technical Institute in Presque Isle as a physical education instructor and intramurals/athletic director and he was hired in 1980. He later became the college’s director of admissions in 1995 and held that job until 2008. He served as UM Pi’s athletic director for two years before returning to Northern Maine Community College in 2011 as its athletic director, soccer and basketball coach - positions he still holds. In addition, he has served as an assistant basketball coach at Caribou High School, under his son, Chris, for the past several years. Casavant has also been a past board official in soccer and basketball, but baseball has continued with a busy slate of games every spring. He has worked at a number of levels in addition to high school, including NCAA, ECAC, American Legion and even a stint of minor league baseball with the Bangor Lumberjacks. He has been the assignor and interpreter for the NMBABU for the past 34 years. Richard Gardiner joined the board in Casavant’s first year at the position and is still an active umpire. “Bill has been a very successful umpire at a variety of levels of competition, but to me his extraordinary ability to convey his vast knowledge and passion to others as our board interpreter is what puts him above the rest,” Gardiner said. “He respects the game and the individuals involved and is rewarded by the fact he is looked upon with the highest regards.” Casavant said one of his highlights as an umpire was the ability to work with all three of his sons at one time or another. Two of his sons, Matthew and Nicholas, eventually had to stop umpiring after joining the state police, but Chris, the oldest, just completed his 23rd year and the two have worked several Eastern Maine and state games together. Casavant said that as long as he still enjoys it, he will continue to umpire. “I like working with all the veterans and the new guys too,” he said. “After the long winters in northern Maine, it’s great to be outdoors and being involved with a game that I love.” Casavant and his wife, Daryl, reside in Presque Isle and have been married for 43 years. In addition to the three sons, they have seven grandchildren.