Friday, January 05, 2007

Blues Anniversary

-After a bit of research, and with the help of the St. Louis Blues staff, we've determined that I will be celebrating 20 years of continuous service as the public-address announcer on Sunday January 7th. My first game as a solo act (The first two in January '87 I was an observer) was on 1/7/87--Blues vs. Hartford Whalers. Blues 6, Whalers 3. There's no game on the 7th this year. So, there may be some sort of recognition of my anniversary at the game on Saturday, January 13th.

Not only has it been 20 years, but what I'm most proud of is the fact that I haven't missed a single game in that time. I've been lucky with my health...and have had very few significant schedule conflicts...so I'm working on something around 900 straight games....pre-, post-, and regular-season. The story of how I got started goes like this....

I was working in the sports department at KXOK (AM 630) in those days. KXOK had won the radio rights to Blues hockey away from KMOX for a few years and was attempting to do essentially what KTRS is doing now. Eventually there was a problem at the ownership level...but that's another story. Ron Jacober, my boss at the time, approached me one day and said that Susie Mathieu (then Vice President of Everything with the Blues) had asked him if I would be interested in being the p-a announcer for the rest of the '86-'87 season. She needed somebody because Charlie Hodges, who had been doing it, was leaving the team to take a job with Bud Sports. Ron said, "If you're interested, talk to Susie".

I had been covering the team regularly for the radio station anyway, so it was a comfort zone that was easy to walk into. Susie and I met. She informed me that there would be very little compensation attached to the job because Charlie had been on-staff in the media relations department and they hadn't budgeted anything for the p-a position. Also, she said, the Harry Ornest ownership philosophy was in full effect. If you don't have to pay for something, don't. So, I agreed to fill out the season for a small remuneration, and the chance to do something fairly high-profile that was fun. I had no intention of doing it past the end of that season...certainly not at that original pay rate.

As we approached the end of the season, Susie called me one day and asked if I'd be interested in doing the p-a on a permanent basis. She said they liked the way I sounded and handled the job. I told her that I was flattered...but that I couldn't justify the time investment if there wasn't more compensation involved. She said.."Stop by my office after the next game and we'll discuss it. " At that meeting, Susie and the Blues made the job worth my while financially. And we've been able to maintain a working relationship ever since.

Highlights? Let's see....

  • I've worked for 5 owners....Ornest, Shanahan, Kiel Center Partners, The Lauries, Dave Checketts/SCP Parners.
  • I've had several bosses...all of which I consider great people and friends.
  • I announced every single goal that Brett Hull scored on Blues home ice.
  • I handled the player intros on ESPN for the '88 NHL All-Star Game..(A big thrill.. I think Mario Lemieux scored 4...or 5?.. goals in that one and won MVP).
  • The night that "The Great One" played his first home game in a Blues uniform..(I think that was the most nervous I ever was doing the player intros before the game).
  • The Dan Kelly, Bernie Federko, Brian Sutter, Al MacInnis and Brett Hull number retirement nights.
The Blues p.a. job has brought many wonderful friendships and business relationships into my life in these twenty years. I can't imagine what could have brought more enjoyment than having been associated with the classy, hard-working people that I've been able to work for, and with, in the Blues organization. Not to mention the NHL off-ice official crew, and many great hockey fans with whom I've become friends over the years. I dare not start naming names, because I wouldn't want to disrespect anyone who deserves to be mentioned by not doing so. There's a good chance, if you're reading this, you are one of those people. If so, thank you.

My deepest thanks to Ron and Susie for hatching this egg...and the Blues, and the great people they have brought into my life. Go Blues!

5 comments:

stlkevin said...

As just a regular Blues fan I would juct like to chime in and say thanks for the excellent job you do.

You really are a staple of the Blues hockey experince and your goal announcements are almost as exciting as the goals themselves.

Keep up the good work.

Andy said...

Tommy - Congratulations on 20 years behind the mic!

Sincerely,
Andy Hanselman

Matt Gordon said...

Tom,

Congratulations on 20 years! Best wishes for many more.

Paul Harris said...

Congratulations, Tom! Hope the franchise does something nice to honor its most consistent performer.

Anonymous said...

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TOM!!!!!

I plan on being there for the game Saturday afternoon, and you can bet that myself and my friends (sorry, bro can't make it--gotta work) will MAKE SOME NOISE FOR YOU!!!!!

Again, Happy Anniversary Tom--you're the best in the NHL!

Colin Feeney