ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — He has been coaching different teams in St. Paul for 60 years, and has been umpiring nearly as long.
Every pitch, 82-year-old Bill Peterson assumes the ready position.
“I got butterflys all the way coming out here to umpire,” he said. “I don’t care what it is in your life, you always want to do it the best you can.”
Peterson is a legend in St. Paul. When he shows up for a game, it is a show.
His other passion has been coaching. In fact, his first job was in 1960 as a hockey coach of an all African-American team in St. Paul.
“I think ’til this day, I know at the time, it was the only Black youth hockey team in the nation,” he said.
It’s close to where he coached a young baseball prospect named Dave Winfield and, later, another Hall of Famer named Paul Molitor.
“(Dave) was so good physically, that he could not do the fundamentals and still do it,” he said. “Molly was different. He had good fundamentals, and just a great athlete. Both of them were just tremendous athletes, and people.”
He coached with Dave’s brother Steve, and his name is forever a part of the ball park they work.
“He’s got his own field named after him, so that says it all,” Steve Winfield said. “I’m just hanging onto the coattails here, getting a little windfall.”
Those are side notes to Peterson. What he really wants is what comes out of this being where he wants to be with people who enrich his life.
“I’ve been dealing with kids all my life. It’s just a part of my life, dealing with them,” he said.
Recently he won a lifetime achievement award from the Minnesota Youth Athletic Services. It was gratifying, but hardly what his life has been about.
“Awards are great, but awards are — when you’re a guy like me and you’re old, you know what awards are for. They’re for you and they want to get ’em in before you’re not around,” he said.