Behind the Mic, Featured, Sports

Behind the Mic: Thank You, VIA

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On March 26, 2014, I will be inducted into the Lehigh Valley Basketball Hall of Fame. I certainly have plenty of people to thank for this honor and I would like to share some of those sentiments with you.

First, I wish to thank the VIA Lehigh Valley Basketball Hall of Fame Committee for this wonderful honor. Ironically, I always hoped that if I could not play my way into the Hall of Fame, I could certainly talk my way in. And that has happened.

Over 40 years ago, I was teaching English at Wilson High School when I received a call from Fred Anderson of radio station WEST asking me if I wanted to be his color analyst for high school basketball. I was on my way to help supervise a pep rally for the Nazareth-Wilson football game and I really could not talk to him. I promised to call him back. When the pep rally ended, I was on my way to call WEST back and accept the job. It sounded like something I would love to do and WEST was THE sports station in the Easton area. On my way to the high school office to make the call (no cell phones then), I stopped and checked my mailbox and there was a message that said while I was away, Bob Gehris of Twin-County Television had called and would I call him back.

Bob had been my sixth grade elementary school teacher and was someone I greatly respected. I decided I would call him before calling WEST. It turned out that Bob was doing play-by-play for local high school basketball games on cable television and wondered if I wanted to be his color analyst. Two calls within 30 minutes, both offering the same job! And it was a job I was thrilled to try. I asked Bob what the pay was and said I would get back to him shortly. I called Fred Anderson back and, after some discussion, I asked him what the pay was. WEST offered $7.50 a game and Twin-County was offering $15.00. Suffice it to say, I took the television job and have been doing it ever since!

In accepting this award, I feel a bit like a member of a basketball team, because this honor recognizes a team, not just me. Without good camera work, our product is not good. Without the proper replays, engineering, audio, and clear pictures, our product is not good. And certainly, without a good fellow announcer, our product is not good. Without the cooperation of school administration and coaches, the product is not good. So this is more of a team award recognizing those who put the entire package together and I am proud to have worked with this team for over 4500 broadcasts, about two-thirds of which were high school basketball games.

I would be remiss if I did not recognize the people who have been a major part of my journey. First of all is the man who has been our director and the leader of our team for almost all of our sporting events, Rick Geho. Then there are my long-term sidekicks – the man who started it all – Bob Gehris. Next the man who sat alongside me for over thirty years doing basketball, baseball, and football games – Dick Tracy. And my current high school announcing team – fellow announcer, Tom Stoudt, and stats man extraordinaire, John “Beet” Bowman.

In 1996, I retired from teaching and became a full-time employee because of our new association with Lafayette College and the Lafayette Sports Network. We have been doing basketball and football with them ever since. The Lafayette guys deserve special mention – Scott Morse of LSN who is the Director of Athletic Communications and Promotions and I am happy to say a very good friend. My Lafayette cohorts – John Leone, Mike Joseph, and Dan Mowdy. And, of course, there is no job without the support of management and I certainly want to thank the vice president and general manager of RCN PA, Sanford Ames. Please accept my gratitude for your efforts, your camaraderie, and, most importantly, your friendship.

That takes me to my wife. Luba and I have been married for fifty years. Although, technically, if you subtract all the nights I have been away to do games, we probably have about twenty full years together! This job does not work if you do not have support at home. I have that! I can tell you that after doing all those games, I can count on one hand the nights I went out after a game. I always wanted to get home to my family and to my wife. I did not want to be anywhere else. She is certainly in my Hall of Fame.

In conclusion, when I was teaching, I used to tell my students that their happiness was dependent on getting the four A’s from the people who mattered most in their lives, their loved ones, their peers, and significant adults. The four A’s are: Attention, Affection, Approval, and Acceptance.

Attention – You want people to know who you are.
Affection – You want people to like you.
Approval – You want people to let you know that you do a good job.
Acceptance – You want people to welcome you into their circle.

This honor has filled me with the 4-A’s and for that I am very grateful, very humbled, and very happy.

1. The Morning Call this past Sunday had an article written by Keith Groller about Larry Miller of Catasauqua. Keith did a wonderful job recognizing both the basketball talent and idiosyncrasies of the player I considered the very best to ever play in the Lehigh Valley. By the way, that’s my quote in the headline. It is a good read. Check it out:,0,3953032.story

2. Watching the NCAA playoffs and witnessing so many great players made me think about how many of them actually will become professionals. The NCAA stats say that of the 538,676 high school male basketball players, 17,984 will play college basketball – but only 46 will be drafted by the NBA. According to the NCAA, 3.3% of high school basketball players will play college basketball, 1.2% of them will play professional, and 0.03% of high school players will play professional basketball. It seems pretty obvious that education should be the most important concern for 99% of the athletes.

3. By the way, soccer offers the best chance to become a professional athlete. A whopping 0.09% of the 410,982 high school soccer players get to be pros.

4. One of the scariest moments in my broadcasting career occurred on May 29, 2012 at Coca-Cola Park. Salisbury baseball pitcher, Nic Ampietro, was hit in the head by a batted ball. His teammate, Brad Vangeli, did a recent YouTube piece on the incident which includes our game footage and, more importantly, a happy ending. Check it out:

5. I picked Florida, Louisville, Arizona, and Villanova in the Final Four. Three are alive and one is done. I picked Florida and Arizona to meet in the championship game with Florida winning. Time will tell.