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Randy Marsh of Covington was a major league baseball umpire for 30 years, living ‘dream come true’

By Andy Furman
NKyTribune reporter

He knew exactly what he wanted to do when he was 18 years old.

The only trouble – he had to wait some 13 years before that dream became a reality.

Randy Marsh, who served as a Major League Baseball umpire for 30 years, opened up and told his story recently to the Covington Rotary Club at the Radisson Hotel.

“My dad was Supervisor of the Kenton County Knothole,” Marsh told the assembled group, “He organized the league and scheduled the umpires for games.”

Randy Marsh (Photo courtesy Covington Rotary)

And more often than not, Marsh explained, there usually was a need for umps on a Saturday morning.

“I guess they just didn’t want to get out of bed at 8 a.m. to umpire a baseball game and hear kids screaming,” he joked.

But Randy Marsh did.

“I took classes at the YMCA in Covington,” he said, “I wanted to be an umpire.”

The Holmes High School grad, who umpired over 4,000 games in his career probably was too young – and maybe a bit naive – to understand how difficult that road would be.

Randy Marsh spent 13 years in the minor leagues umpiring baseball games.

“I only thought about packing it all in one time,” he said, “And it wasn’t because I lost the love of the game or umpiring.”

In 1960 Randy Marsh was calling ball and strike for Little League games; in 1970 he was minor league umpire and in 1980 he made it to The Big Show.

“It was the Florida League, the Eastern League and the Pacific Coast League, before I made it to the big leagues,” he said. “All I can remember is it was a lot of travel.”

But he did remember that fateful night in Portland, Oregon.

He had been home from umpire school, and he got the call.

“It was 1981 when I got the call from Blake Cullen in the league office,” he said, “He told me I got the promotion to the big leagues.”

And, as luck would have it, his first ballgame was – you guessed it – in Cincinnati with the Reds hosting the Los Angeles Dodgers – at Crosley Field.

“The league had no choice,” he recalled, “The needed me here; and they did apologize as they knew what kind of pressure it would be to work my first-ever game in my home town.”

Randy Marsh did – and he never looked back.

And he never forgot his roots.

“I’m happy to be here talking to you club,” he said, “The Covington Rotary Club was one of my first places to speak when I made it to the big leagues.”

He’s seen much during his career – on and off the baseball diamond.

A member of the Kentucky Hall of Fame, the Florida Hall of Fame and the Northern Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame, Marsh says he “likes the new rules in baseball.
“It makes the game quicker. Games were averaging three hours and ten minutes. Now they’re about an hour less.”

He also likes the fact baseball has eliminated the shift. “It makes the game more interesting,” he said.

The new rules stipulate that teams must have four infielders starting with at least one of their feet in the infield dirt, eliminating the extra outfielder positioning. Also, there must be two infielders on each side of second base, preventing the overloading of one side.

Players will be able to move as soon as the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand.

Marsh umpired the World Series in (1990, 1997, 1999, 2003 and 2006), serving as crew chief for the last three Series, and in the All-Star Game in 1985, 1988, 1996 and 2006, calling balls and strikes for the 1996 game.

He is the tenth umpire in history to serve as crew chief for three World Series. He also officiated in nine League Championship Series (1989, 1992, 1995, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2009) and in five Division Series (1998, 199, 2001, 2003 and 2006). He had been a crew chief from the 1998 season until his retirement following the 2009 season.

These days he observes the umpiring crew when they come to Cincinnati.

The rest of the time he plays golf.

You gotta wonder if he’s ever called anyone out on the course.

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One Comment

  1. Patrick D. Burch says:

    You got the stadium wrong. Randy Marsh’s first game in majors was at Riverfront Stadium. NOT Crosley Field.

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