Arlin hasn’t stopped yet
After 42 years of officiating sporting events, Opp native Arlin Davis isn’t slowing down.
Davis, along with Andalusia’s Robert Horry, was elected into the Wiregrass Hall of Fame on July 11 at the Dothan Civic Center.
Davis, at 70 years old, has no intention of quitting what he believes the Lord has given him to do.
His story starts in 1967 when he stopped playing sports.
“I just got to where I couldn’t play anymore and I just enjoyed the game so I just started officiating to be so close to it,” Davis said. “I started calling basketball and then moved on to baseball and football. I’ve called it all.”
Davis was supposed to graduate from Opp High School in 1957, but he said he fell in love with his current wife, Patsy, and married her soon after. He then left to serve in the military.
“I went into the military in 1960 from the Bay of Pigs invasion until just before the Vietnam War,” he said. “So, I was lucky I didn’t have to participate in any of that.”
During his stint in the Army, Davis received his General Educational Development diploma.
“The Lord has blessed me to let me live this long to do it,” he said. “I think that that was one of the things He wanted me to do.
“I retired from the state of Alabama after 30 years and when I retired in 1996, I had colon cancer,” he said. “The Lord knocked me to my knees. I treat everybody like I wanted to be treated. I’ve called for 42 years and that’s a lot of games. I’ve never been home and felt like I mistreated a child. Every child out there is somebody’s child.”
For 34 years, Davis also coached Babe Ruth baseball.
“I’ve coached long enough to coach two generations,” Davis said. “We won 17 games straight one time and to my knowledge that has never been broken.
“The people of Opp have thought enough of me they let me serve two terms on the city council,” he said. “I’ve been blessed and the city of Opp and Covington County has been good to me all of my life.”
Some notable sports figures in games Davis has called include Horry, Chuck Person, Jim Palmer and John Drew, who played for the Atlanta Hawks.
Davis said he was “thrilled” to be elected to the Wiregrass Hall of Fame.
“I was really honored and thrilled,” he said. “The thing I was really proud of is I was the second official to ever be elected. They usually always elect players and coaches, and another thing I was proud of was the people that voted me in knew me and knew the officiating job I’ve done over the years.
“A lot of people don’t like the officials, but the game can’t be played if the officials aren’t there. My goal is that both sides see a fair shake.”
After a long career being an official at games, Davis will start his 43rd year as an official this fall, calling football games in the Troy area.
One particular game that stood out to Davis was a game played in Andalusia between two teams, before schools went through integration.
“Coach (Richard) Robertson was coaching at Woodson and the game was on a Saturday night,” Davis said. “(Robertson) asked me and Winston King to call the game. That place was packed and people were hanging from the rafters.
“We went in the door and coach Robertson put his arm around me and said ‘Mr. Davis, you won’t have to worry; there ain’t nothing going to happen to you and nobody’s going to bother you tonight.’ That was because me and Winston were the only white folks in the gym that night.”
Davis is the father of three children; Lynn, Robin and Bo Jr. and has five grandchildren, Allen and Adam Elmore, Tray Davis, Amber Davis and Dolton Tidwell.