Melvin retiring after 46 years of officiating

Published 9:19 am Thursday, February 28, 2019

DOWAGIAC — For the past 46 years, Dowagiac’s Randy Melvin and run up and down the basketball court.

When the district tournament ends later this week, Melvin will say goodbye to refereeing basketball.

Melvin never imagined he would be a high school official for more than four decades when he started after he graduated from high school.

Former Southwestern Michigan College basketball coach Denny Tansey used to come into Melvin’s uncle Jim’s restaurant B&J Carry Out (now trackside) and talked to him about becoming a sports official.

“I thought it would be fun for a few years,” Melvin said. “Denny Tansey asked me if I had ever thought about officiating? I was like no. He kind of talked me into it, and I just continued on from there.”

Melvin has officiated multiple sports, including softball, both at the high school and amateur adult-league level.

He has worked three state high school finals.

“My very first state final, and I have been fortunate enough to work three, but my first state final was in Battle Creek a girls game,” Melvin said about his most memorable games. “The game that sticks out the most was (when) Detroit Country Day came down and played at Mattawan. Shane Battier was a senior who went on to play at Duke. Obviously working some of Derek Jeter’s games when he was in high school.”

The hardest game Melvin said will be tonight when he works his final game with his son Tanner Melvin at Niles.

Melvin is pleased with the fact that he has been able to work together with his son Tanner, who will carry on the family tradition for the foreseeable future.

He said that Tanner probably caught the bug early in his life.

“He went with us when he was six years old with Andy and I to almost every game,” he said. “I would give him some money and he would go sit in the stands and he would wait for us go get out of the games. As soon as he got out of playing his two years of baseball (in college) he said he was thinking about doing it. He stepped in and is going to be a good official.”

In 2013, he was inducted into the Michigan Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame in Midland.

Melvin became a registered MASA official in 1976 and officiated softball for 27 years.

“I have been pretty fortunate,” Melvin said. “I have had some really great partners. I refed probably about six years with Larry Crandall. Andy Saetre and I were probably together for about 20 some years, and now the last four years with Tanner (Melvin), which has been really cool.”

Melvin said that he would encourage young kids,who want to continue begin a part of the game that they love so much to think about becoming an official.

“Coloma’s head coach two weeks ago asked us to speak to his basketball team right after the girls varsity game about the advantages of officiating,” he said. “You know, you can make pretty good money in week. It is just a way to stay in the game. I was an average basketball player, but now you get to go to these gyms and see these kids progress. I have seen several kids go on to the National Basketball Association. The hard part is people yelling at you. You just have to have some thick skin. But there are some opportunities there.”

Melvin wanted to thank his wife Kathy for supporting him all these years.

“My wife has been a saint,” he said. “Coming home and throwing clothes in the washer for the next night.”

Melvin also said he has met a lot of great head coaches over the years and athletic directors.