Sports official had passion for rulebook

Janet Hildencan can hardly recall seeing Michael Duff, her little brother, when he didn't have his baseball glove and bat as the two grew up on Dartmouth Street on Flint's north side.

His boyhood friend, Tom Evans of Grand Blanc Township, still remembers spending hours shooting baskets with Duff from a small patch of concrete near their homes.

That passion for sports was something Duff, 58, never lost, as he officiated hundreds of high school football and basketball games before his death June 16.

Friends and family have planned a memorial service for Duff at 2:30 pm today at Swartz Funeral Home, 1225 W. Hill Road, and many of the stories and memories will have a sports connection.

Those closest to him said Duff would not have wanted it any other way.

Videos show Duff and Evans, who officiated as part of the same crew in action. Visitation is scheduled for noon until the time of the memorial service today.

"Michael always was a salesman (and) ... Michael could sell his call," Evans said. "He knew the rules. He got in the right place on the right side" and when he made the call, "It was - bang. It's right there ... he saw it, he called it, and if he had to explain it, he could."

Born and raised in Flint, Duff graduated from Ferris State University and worked in sales jobs most of his life, Hilden said. He served on the Mt. Morris City Council in the late 1990s, but his passion was sports.

He was a past president of the Genesee County Coaches and Officials Association.

"Officiating -- it's a love. It's something that gets into your blood," said Phil Long of Swartz Creek, who has helped schedule sports officials like Duff for years.

"It's a passion you have and something you don't want to give up. It keeps you young, and you got the best seat in the house."

Hilden said her brother was forced to give up officiating late in his life because of knee problems and diabetes. The famils is asking that memorials be sent to the American Diabetes Association.

"Sports really was his life," Hilden said of her brother. "He knows the rules so well, and he stuck to them."

Mike Duff Game Ball

Mike Duff Crew Silverdome

Mike Duff Football Crew