Referee Bobby Ferrara officiates the Arturo Brambila vs. Jose Montoya Junior Welterweights fight at the Desert Diamond Casino on Jan. 6, 2005. Photo by Rich-Joseph Facun / Arizona Daily Star

Rich-Joseph Facun / Arizona Daily Star

Editor's note: This summer, Star columnist Greg Hansen is counting down the top 10 of just about everything related to Tucson sports.

Today's list: The top 10 officials and referees in Tucson history.

On a fall day in 1927, Ralph Deal, a former UA football player, climbed a ladder to the top of UA’s new gymnasium and dipped a brush into a large can of blue paint.

He filled in the outline of the B on Bear Down Gymnasium, a lasting memorial to his fallen teammate, John "Button" Salmon, namesake of Arizona’s "Bear Down" rally cry.

After that, Deal made his name in another side of sports. For 38 years, he officiated college football and basketball, and all manner of high school sports in Southern Arizona.

"In football season, I would start with a six-man football game at Patagonia in the afternoon, then drive to Bisbee for an 11-man game that night," he told me in 1990. "The next day I’d officiate the UA game at Arizona Stadium."

Deal was the most well-known referee in Southern Arizona for almost four decades, working Territorial Cup football games and acting as the official scorer for the entire 81-game basketball winning streak at Bear Down Gym.

He is plainly one of the 10 leading officials in Tucson history, but that’s where the crowd forms. When I began these rankings, I was unaware of the difficulty of narrowing the lists to 10. Tucson overflows with current and former referees/officials of a notable scale. If I left your favorite (and deserving) official off this list, let me hear about it. 

Sports columnist for the Arizona Daily Star.