Remembering Bill Williamson.

Author:Large, Donald W.
Position:Northwestern School of Law, Lewis & Clark College

I first met Bill when I was interviewing for a teaching position at Lewis & Clark, in January of 1977. I was a member of the University of Wisconsin faculty, then visiting at Vanderbilt, and looking to move to the Portland area. After fighting a snow storm to get to school for my interview, I then spent the day at the law school, bouncing from office to office for conversations with most of the faculty. The interviews seemed to go well, and at the end of the day Doug Newell and a few other faculty members took me out to a nice dinner at a French restaurant in Lake Oswego.

It was there that I met Bill for the first time. As I later discovered, he had spent the day hiding in his eyrie out in the Rex Hills above Newberg. Then Newell had called him in late afternoon to say, "The interviewee is going over pretty well; you better come in and meet him." I am sure Bill started out favorably disposed to me, because my successful performance during the day got him a free dinner in this excellent restaurant; whereas if I had bombed, he might have been cooking beans at home.

We hit it off right from the start. I cannot remember how we got on the topic, but we discovered that we both had a love of baseball, and both had played the APBA table baseball game for many years. Bill was intrigued to find someone with the same obscure hobby. He immediately wanted my opinion on some of the issues that APBA players find compelling but other people find either irrelevant or mindless: What is the importance of a pitcher's "Z" rating? Do you like a batter with a lot of "14s" on his card? Do you call the hit and run every time a batter has three "31s" on his card?

I saw that I had a dilemma, in an interview, you want to include everyone in the conversation. I could discuss these weighty APBA issues with Bill in depth, which he was plainly expecting to do, but I could see the eyes of the other four people at the table glaze over as we began to converse on what, I am sure, seemed to them boring and incomprehensible. Or I could gently back away from the conversation with Bill and direct a more legally relevant question toward Doug Newell, Ron Lansing, or one of the other people there.

"What the hell," I decided, "I've talked enough law today. Let's talk baseball now." Besides, those other folks had already had the day to get to know me, for better or worse, and Bill hadn't. So we had a long conversation, interesting to us but only marginally understandable to anyone...

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