It’s Official: McCoy retires

PARKERSBURG -Bruce McCoy.

He’s a household name in the Mid-Ohio Valley, where he has served as a sports official for 47 years and 100 sports seasons.

He made his debut on Dec. 15, 1966, when Edison Junior High School coach Sam Ware hired McCoy and Darrell Stephens to officiate a junior high basketball game. They were paid $3 each out of the school’s popcorn fund.

McCoy quickly earned a reputation as well as a nickname -Megaphone McCoy. If Bruce was calling a game, no matter how big or how loud the crowd, you always knew what he was calling as that unmistakable voice of his would announce, “We got 1-2 White.”

McCoy, who kept a log of every game he ever called, did 9,221 winter basketball games, 602 fall girls basketball contests, 1,654 football games and 346 baseball games. In case you are too lazy to do the math, that’s 11,823 games.

McCoy didn’t care if it was small fry, grade school or the high school state championship game (he was selected for the state basketball tournament, a state baseball championship game and 23 football playoff games.) If he was available, he would be there.

The key to his longevity and success? “I have a very understanding family,” he said of his wife, Barbara, and his two sons, Matt and Noah.

McCoy, a retired Wood County Schools teacher who taught at Edison and Franklin, was more than an official. He was a friend to the athletes who were under his care. Often, he would point out to the youth players the correct way to perform a task rather than call them for some ticky-tack violation.

Perhaps the best description of McCoy came from a lady who was conducting a youth basketball tournament.

She walked to him and told him, “You’re not just an official. You’re an entertainer.”

Like every official, McCoy had his critics.

During one junior high game, a father in the stands was being quite vocal about virtually every call McCoy made, especially the ones that went against his son’s team.

So McCoy tossed him a whistle and told him to blow it anytime he saw something get past him. Needless to say, the fan remained silent after that.

Then there was the local basketball coach who didn’t take kindly to McCoy assessing him a technical foul.

“McCoy,” he said, “I’ll still be coaching long after you are gone.”

That didn’t happen as the coach retired long before McCoy.

McCoy has more stories than Aesop. He’s pretty much seen it all.

Like the Saturday night his crew was calling a football game for Walton High School at the Gandeeville 4-H Grounds. In the middle of the third quarter, a car crashes into a nearby electric pole, knocking out the lights.

The game is moved to Spencer High School -teams, fans, officials and all. It’s now after 11 p.m. and the game still is in the third quarter. The officiating crew is hoping things will go smoothly the rest of the way. That didn’t happen.

McCoy happened to look up in the stands and observed an assistant coach beating the daylights out of a fan. When he reported the incident to referee Bill Sheets, he was told to only worry about what was taking place on the field. Two weeks later, the offending coach was hired by George Allen to be the defensive backs coach for the Washington Redskins.

Then there was a basketball game featuring Clay County at Calhoun County. Red Devil Tim Davis sets the school record by scoring 51 points. As the horn sounds to end the game, the basketball bounces toward the stands and a youngster scoops it up and scurries out of the gym.

As McCoy is getting dressed, coach Kent Kennedy asks him about the record-setting game ball.

“Coach,” McCoy replied, “that basketball is at Mt. Alto, probably heading for Arnoldsburg.”

Speaking of game balls, anyone knows that if you played football at Sistersville High School and scored on the side of the field located toward the Ohio River, the extra point kick would land in the water. So the officials would ask the scoring team if it intended to kick and if the answer was yes, would take the ball to the other end of the field.

It happened early in one game that Sistersville scored early on the river side of the field and coach Lou Nocida told the officials of his intention to kick the extra point. But, the Tigers faked the kick and successfully ran the extra point. That didn’t set well with the head of McCoy’s officiating crew, who threw a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Officials aren’t supposed to have their favorites. But ask McCoy where his favorite place was to officiate and without hesitation he will tell you at St. Joe Seminary. Why? Not just the hospitality extended by coach Fred Bartimoccia, but also because when the game was over, you could go swimming in a heated pool.

One of the most memorable trips he ever made to a game was from Parkersburg to Spencer High School. The head of McCoy’s officiating crew -who worked for the Wood County Sheriff’s Department -picked up McCoy and Stephens for the approximately 50-mile trip. McCoy hopped in the front seat and when Stephens got in the back, he noticed a stranger there. When they arrived at Spencer, instead of stopping at the high school, they proceeded to the state mental hospital, where the passenger was to be admitted.

McCoy is a long-time supporter of the Wood County Recreation Commission, for whom he sold numerous raffle tickets to help support players who couldn’t otherwise afford to participate in youth programs.

McCoy, who still serves as a substitute teacher when he is needed, always will be a sports fan and follow the local sports scene. But he no longer will be blowing his whistle or throwing a flag. His striped shirts, like him, have been retired.