We Really are Spoiled
I was reading through Terry Pluto’s Sunday Q&A with Joe Tait when I came across this part of the article:
Q: Is this really going to be your last season?
A: That’s it. I’m done. A few years ago, the travel really started to get to me. I was getting off airplanes at 4 a.m. after flying all night … I realized it was time to go.
It took a few minutes for it to register, but then it hit me: Joe Tait’s retiring after next year! I’m still having some trouble processing it. Tait has always been there, doing Cavs games on the radio since the team started in 1970 (well, except for those two years when he wasn’t there, but you know what I mean). Can there be a Cavs game without Joe Tait behind the mic?
Tait is an old-school pro, someone who understands that people tune in for the game, not necessarily to just listen to him. He’s an announcer, not a personality, and he’s going to be missed once he leaves the building.
Growing up one of my friends had a 12-inch LP of The Miracle of Richfield, which featured audio from Tait’s game calls. We listened to that so many times I can still hear Tait’s words to this day.
Sunday’s New York Times had an article about how longtime broadcaster Dick Enberg has returned to calling baseball games with the San Diego Padres. In the article, Padres president Tom Garfinkel describes Enberg this way:
“Broadcasters in a way are the greatest brand ambassadors you can have,” Garfinkel said. “Dick brings a degree of credibility that’s very rare. He’s a great storyteller. He brings an enthusiasm and tells a story in a way that separates him from a lot of others.”
Those same words could be used to describe Tait. He truly is the Cavs, having been with the team through a multitude of players, coaches, wins, losses, arenas, uniform colors and logos. He is the Cavs brand.
Thinking about Tait made me realize how spoiled we have been as Cleveland fans to have the quality of announcers we’ve had over the past 40+ years.
I can remember Gib Shanley calling Browns games in the late ’70s & early ’80s, especially home games as the Browns rarely sold out at home during that period unless it was against Pittsburgh. Shanley gave way to Nev Chandler, one of the best football announcers. Who can ever forget his calls during the Browns playoff seasons of 1986 & 1987?
On the Indians side, everyone under a certain age grew up with Herb Score who, in a bigger market, would have received more acclaim than he did here in Cleveland. Hearing the voice of Tom Hamilton on a Tribe game has been the soundtrack of summer in Cleveland since 1990.
With the growth of satellite radio and more out-of-town broadcasts available, it’s easy to see that, even if the Cleveland teams haven’t always been winners over the past four decades, the local announcers have always been at the top of their games.