Little League umpire William Ross finds strength in battle against cancer
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - William Ross is not your everyday umpire.
Whether he’s dancing to music between innings, laughing with kids, or just cracking a smile, it’s hard to miss his contagiously positive behavior.
“I’ll be honest, I thought he was goofy the first time I met him,” Little League District One administrator John Sivley said.
Ross isn’t offended. In fact, he takes that as a compliment.
“It’s just who I am. That’s how everyone knows me. That’s just who I am sir,” Ross said with a big grin.
He’s the biggest fan of several kids in the Little League Community, including Bowling Green East 10-year-old all-star Brady Boyd.
“He’s not just an umpire. He’s an amazing person. He’ll always be in my heart,” Boyd said.
For Ross, his passion comes from the kids too.
“My stuff comes from the kids. I see them and just want to keep standing with them,” Ross said.
After 13 years of standing behind the plate as an umpire, Ross didn’t stand the same this past month.
He began experiencing chest pains and rapid weight loss. After being unable to complete his daily morning run, he knew he needed to see a doctor.
“He told me, ‘Let’s run a CAT scan.’ We’ll run some tests and see what we come up with,” Ross said.
The diagnosis came out as Small-cell Carcinoma - an aggressive form of lung cancer. A stent was placed inside of Ross and he says he’s been continuing his treatments.
“I have been feeling good lately. I have my good days and bad days.”
A GoFundMe page was started by a member of the Little League Community. So far, it’s raised almost $15,000 out of its goal of $25,000.
The outpouring of support has inspired people in the Little League Community such as Jef Goodnight, who’s the co-founder of the “Playing for Mason Foundation.” He says that the love Ross has for the game is akin to what helped him cope with the loss of his own son, Mason, in 2017.
“It’s just the spirit of human nature. That’s the spirit that lifts everyone up. For me, it’s therapy. And I guarantee it’s the same thing for him,” Goodnight said.
For Sivley, he says Ross’ strength is a testament to his character.
“Individuals aren’t defined by their troubles. They’re defined by how they deal with their troubles. I think that’s exactly what William is doing right now,” Sivley said.
Ross didn’t disclose a timetable for his diagnosis. Instead, he leaned into his faith, saying that he’ll continue to keep his head high and his mask on for as long as he can.
“I tell the kids all the time: As long as there’s baseball, there’s gonna be an umpire’s job to be done. That’s where I’m at with this.”
You can access the GoFundMe link for Ross here.
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