Referees in History

The Referee Hall of Fame

Famous referees in history

Would you agree if I say that the refs are probably the most overlooked profession in history? If you think about it, almost anybody can name at least one famous person from a specific field especially in sports.

For example, Michael Jordan is to basketball as Wayne Gretzky is to hockey. There is also Hulk Hogan and Andre Agassi for wrestling and tennis. Of course who can forget David Beckham for soccer and Derek Jeter for baseball with their celebrity wives and girlfriends. Heck, even the coaches are just as popular as the players but nobody bothers to notice the people in the referee uniform. Are they really that insignificant for people to know at least their names?

You’re probably wondering how would you gauge a referee’s popularity. Unlike athletes and coaches where you can stack each one based on their statistics, refs don’t actually win or lose with each game and you can’t compete on who called the most number of penalties because it’s not really up to them now is it? The job of a referee is tough and there will always be somebody who will disagree with your decisions.

Is the referee or sports official meant to dissolve into obscurity after they retire? Don’t they get a shot at being immortalized into sports history? After all, if it wasn’t for them, who will ensure that games are played fair and square?

Admittedly, there are several hundred refs in the country and the world so is there anybody who stands out? There are actually quite a lot however; their popularity might be limited to the fans of the specific sport they are involved in.

Do you remember the Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield boxing match of June 28, 1997? Yes, the one where Mike Tyson took out a piece of Evander Holyfield’s ear by biting it, twice. The original referee for this match was contested by Tyson’s camp so Mills Lane was brought in at the last minute.

This former judge and boxer disqualified the challenger, Mike Tyson and after which, he then sold the bloodstained shirt as a memorabilia to a collector the same night. As with most reality TV stars, he was given his own show, Judge Mills Lane, which ran for at least three years.

Soccer fans will definitely never forget the name Lu Jun especially after this referee along with two other refs have been caught fixing seven league matches for the FIFA World Cup. Lu Jun supervised two games during the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Japan and South Korea and another was the 2001 FIFA Confederation Cup also in the same two countries. He stands to face the death penalty if convicted but was instead fined $128,000 and thrown in jail for 5 ½ years in 2010 after admitting to accepting around the same amount in bribes to fix the matches.

WWE fans would remember this notorious referee. Does the name Danny Davis ring a bell? You might probably remember him as Dangerous Danny Davis, the evil referee who helps the bad guys win matches that turned into one of its wrestlers. However, his career was a little short-lived because, let’s face it, who wants to see a wrestling referee anyway?

Basketball fans will probably remember our next famous referee, Troy Raymond. He is known not for what he did in court but what did out of his referee uniform. He and his wife were found dead in two separate locations in an apparent murder-suicide in 2011. His colleagues do not have fond memories of him and his career as a referee was short-lived due to lies regarding his past that were eventually uncovered.

I am sure every baseball fan is aware of our next famous referee. Timothy McClelland or Tim McClellan acted as a referee or umpire in many historical and momentous games in the Major League Baseball. The corked bat used by Chicago Cubs’ Sammy Sosa that led to his eight games suspension. The pine bar incident of George Bretts, the perfect game of David Wells and the controversial winning run of Matt Holliday to name a few.

This giant of a man has been the referee or umpire at least four times for the World Series and thrice for the All-Star games. He stood witness as Nolan Ryan earned his sixth no-hitter and George Brett’s got his 3,000th hit game.

This next guy puts Lu Jun in shame because Tim Donaghy was a former referee for the NBA for 13 seasons and officiating in over 770 regular games plus 20 play-off games. He was investigated and convicted by the FBI for betting on games that he is officiating. He was allegedly miscalling penalties to fix the game spread. He pled guilty to two federal charges and was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison and was released on November 4, 2009.

This next referee can bring a grown man to his knees in fear. A lawyer during the weekdays and an NFL referee during Sundays, Ed Hochuli is as scary as they come. One of the most respected refs in the NFL, Ed Hochuli is best known for his great physique and it has drawn some large crowd thanks to CBS commentator, Phil Simms.

Phil Simms made a small comment regarding the size of Ed Hochuli’s arms during a particular telecast and this started an unusual fan following for this referee. Ed Hochuli now has merchandising and blogs dedicated to his very existence. He finds it amusing that people recognize him on the streets and that he is fondly referred to as Hochules because of his large biceps.

These unappreciated individuals need to be given their 15 minutes of fame because without them, we won’t be able to enjoy our favorite sports. If not for refs, the captains would consult each other regarding any dispute and of course; each one can’t help but feel biased towards his team. It also doesn’t hurt that some of the refs are real eye candies too!

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