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.
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!