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Passings / Merle Butler

Softball ump oversaw Olympic officiating

January 08, 2008|From Times Wire Services

Merle Butler, 72, who taught softball umpires the rules of the game as an International Softball Federation director and supervised officiating at three Olympics, died Sunday at his home in Edmond, Okla., according to the federation. The cause of death was not reported.

Butler had been an umpire since 1961 and had served as the group's director of umpires since 1981. In that role, he traveled the world, teaching classes and certifying softball umpires for premier events. He also oversaw officiating for Olympic Games in 1996, 2000 and 2004, and had planned to supervise umpires at this year's Beijing Games.

Butler also was the first full-time director of umpires for the Amateur Softball Assn. of America. As leader of umpire operations for both groups, Butler helped craft many of the rules of the game and recorded training videos.

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