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As I begin to contemplate my retirement from high school athletics, I find myself looking back on how it all began. Being a firm believer in “right place, right time”, I am struck by the circumstances that got me started on a 50-year journey of sports broadcasting.
I was teaching at Wilson High School. It was late in the day on a Friday in November when I checked my mailbox and found a note from Dick Hammer of radio station WEST asking me to call him. School was still in session and I was on my way to monitor a pep rally for the football team as they were preparing to face their arch rival the next day. There was no time to make the call.
Ironically and, as it turned out fortuitously, when I returned from the pep rally and the students had been dismissed, I found yet another note in my mailbox. This one was from Bob Gehris of Twin-County TV. He asked me to call him. I noted that the calls came in about 20 minutes apart.
I knew both of these men – Dick Hammer was renowned in the area as a radio sports announcer and we had crossed paths many times when I was playing and coaching. I respected him so much both for his broadcasting skills and his personal traits. He called me first so I called him first.
Dick Hammer asked me to be his color analyst for the upcoming basketball season. I was thrilled. I was confident in my ability to fulfill the position – I was an English teacher so I was certain I could do justice to the English language. I played and coached basketball so I knew that I could analyze the game. After a good conversation, I asked about the pay. I would get $15 a game. That seemed fair and I really wanted to do it. Before accepting, I mentioned that I needed to talk to my wife and that I had received a call from Bob Gehris of Twin County TV which I should return. So, despite my intense interest and excitement, I said I would get back to him.
I next called Bob Gehris. I had known him since I was in elementary school. He was the principal of my grade school and was my sixth grade teacher. I had a love of sports back then and he shared that same passion. I looked forward to just speaking with him.
After catching up with one another, he asked me if I would be his color analyst for the upcoming basketball season. Yup, you heard right – same request, same job, television, not radio. I could not believe it. Within 20 minutes, both men had me on their radar to be their co-announcer. Once again, the conversation turned to the pay. It was $30 per game. It was double what WEST was offering.
I told Mr. Gehris that I truly appreciated the offer, needed to talk to my wife, and I would get back to him.
The rest became my history. My wife was fine with me accepting and, in fact, was convinced I would do a good job. She felt, as I did, that television was the future here and earning twice the money was a no-brainer. It would be difficult to say “no” to one and exciting to say “yes” to the other.
I called Dick Hammer and explained that I appreciated the offer and would have loved to work alongside him, but the Twin-County offer was, as The Godfather once implied, “one I could not refuse.” I called Bob Gehris and accepted the position.
That moment changed my whole life, as I eventually left teaching, became Sports Director, and did the job for 50+ years.
Who would have ever thought that a mere 20 minutes and $15 would mean so much?
ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)
Olympic Golf was played at the Kasumigaseki Country Club and won by American Xander Schauffele. One interesting aspect of golf at the club was the dress code for the players. According to James Colgan of Golf, the code there was very, very strict:
- Blazers and jackets are required upon arrival.
- Shorts can be worn on the course, but only with knee-high socks. Cargo shorts, jeans, mini-skirts, tights, leggings, and “hot pants” are strictly forbidden.
- Collars can be worn up on shirts on the course, but must be turned back down in the clubhouse.
- If you wear a long-sleeved underlayer shirt, you MUST wear a long-sleeved overlayer.
- No metal spikes may be worn and sneakers, sandals, and golf shoes are forbidden in the clubhouse.
- Loud colors and “conspicuous designs” may not be worn.
- James Colgan leaves us with this thought, “The crown jewel of KCC’s dress code rules. In the summer months, members and guests are asked to change their shirt and trousers before entering the dining room to prevent from leaving a damp seat for future guests.”
This makes me wonder if I have EVER left a damp seat! I sure hope not.