When Dwayne Raney passed away earlier this summer, Woodstock lost one of the most important figures in local youth baseball and softball.
Raney, who died June 6 at age 86, helped found Woodstock Little League in 1954, and he served as league president as well. But he was probably best known by legions of players as an umpire-in-chief who officiated Little League and Woodstock Girls Softball League games for more than 50 years.
“I don’t know where we could find a better investment than trying to help our young people,” Raney said in a 1960 interview with local journalist and fellow Little League founder Don Peasley.
Raney was a veteran who served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He was a member and past commander of Woodstock VFW Post 5040, which is still a sponsor of a Little League team and program contributor.
The longtime umpire helped to share his knowledge of the game throughout his tenure behind the plate, holding umpiring training sessions for others.
“You have to want to umpire! It isn’t the money; it’s the satisfaction knowing you tried to do your best and when someone says you called a good game or made a nice call, it’s a great feeling,” Raney told Peasley.
Raney’s daughter, Cathy Gillespie, said her father “lived, slept, dreamed Little League.
“I remember there was one summer he had just gotten done umpiring three games, came home, had something to eat and fell asleep,” Gillespie wrote in an email. “[He] woke himself up by yelling, ‘Strike three, you’re out!’ I am not kidding.”