Ridaught: Remembering a broadcast icon

Vin Scully memorial
Legendary Dodgers radio broadcaster Vin Scully passed away on Aug. 2.

This has been a summer to remember when it comes to sports broadcast legends.

Earlier this spring, Gene Deckerhoff announced his retirement as the “Voice of the Seminoles.” 

Florida State University may be a hated rival of the Gators, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love listening to him call games. Deckerhoff, who is from my hometown of Jacksonville, broadcast FSU games for 43 years.

I was fortunate to meet Gene in Tallahassee and I can tell you he was a genuine guy.

Mick Hubert - former “Voice of the Gators” - and Mike Ridaught
Former “Voice of the Gators” Mick Hubert (left) and Mike Ridaught.

“Gene is a phenomenal broadcaster, and an even better person, and it’s been a privilege to know him on a professional and personal level for over two decades,” said Chris Ferris, LEARFIELD’s senior vice president of broadcasting.

Deckerhoff, who turned 77 in May, began calling Seminole men’s basketball games in 1974. I was six years old.

From 1979-2021, he broadcast 529 Seminole football games. He’s been broadcasting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers since 1989.

Then, in May, Mick Hubert retired as the “Voice of the Gators.”

I also got a chance to meet Mick, who broadcast UF games from 1989 to 2022.

I’ll never forget his famous, “Doering’s got a touchdown” call in 1993. While I didn’t ask Mick about that call, I did get a chance to reminisce with former Gator wide receiver Chris Doering during a radio interview, with Chris noting that it actually put both of them “on the map” with Gator Nation. 

“I’ve probably listened to that over 100 times in my life,” former UF athletic director Jeremy Foley said. “You could feel his passion. He wasn’t just calling that as a play-by-play guy. He was calling it as a Gator. That’s the magic he brought to a Gator broadcast.”

Being a life-long Gator fan, it would be hard to name all the memorable calls or describe the joy of listening to the Gators on the radio for all those years. I loved his energy and passion.

Mike Ridaught and Gary Matthews Sr. at Cal Ripken World Series 2021
Mike Ridaught (left) and former MLB player Gary Matthews Sr. at the 2021 Cal Ripken World Series.

He began his career nearly 50 years ago as a student at Illinois State University. I hope that I am as lucky as Mick to have broadcast for half a century.

I was fortunate to interview Eli Gold, the “Voice of the Alabama Crimson Tide.”

Gold, who has been calling ‘Bama football since 1988, is also up there among the all-time greats for me.

I wish him a speedy recovery as the 68-year-old veteran will miss at least the start of the 2022 college football season due to health reasons.

But then there’s Vin Scully, who honestly was just on another level. He’s among the greatest sports announcers of all time.

Scully passed away on Tuesday at the age of 94. The Hall of Fame broadcaster called NFL games and golf, but “baseball was his domain.”

Scully wasn’t just a legend; he was much bigger than that.

“We have lost an icon,” Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten said in a statement. “Vin Scully was one of the greatest voices in all of sports. He was a giant of a man, not only as a broadcaster, but as a humanitarian. He loved people. He loved life. He loved baseball and the Dodgers. And he loved his family. His voice will always be heard and etched in all of our minds forever. I know he was looking forward to joining the love of his life, Sandi. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this very difficult time. Vin will be truly missed.”

He is the best example of why being well-read and well-rounded helps make a person a better sportscaster. 

I just celebrated my 54th birthday on Thursday. To put things in perspective, Scully broadcast Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers games for 67 years.

The Dodgers are paying tribute to Scully by wearing a commemorative black patch featuring a microphone and “Vin” on their uniforms.

One of the things that I loved about him was how humble he was. The smaller Vin Scully made himself, the larger he became.

Mike Ridaught and Scott Brailes at 2021 Cal Ripken World Series
Mike Ridaught (left) and former MLB player and GM of Ballparks of America Scott Brailes at the 2021 Cal Ripken World Series.

As that story notes, he liked to quote Roy Campanella: “You gotta have a lot of little boy in you.”

That boyish quality came across in his broadcasts.

As a play-by-play announcer, your number one job is to paint the picture for the audience. You are their eyes.

But the best of the best know how to tell a story. That’s what separates their broadcasts.

Scully was the epic storyteller.

And boy, did he have stories.

His list of famous calls included three perfect games, 20 no-hitters, five championship seasons with the Dodgers, and Hank Aaron’s 715th career home run that broke Babe Ruth’s major league record, just to name a few.

The list goes on and on.

I’ve been broadcasting for 30 years. My career pales in comparison to Scully but I’m thankful and grateful that I get to do what I love.

Today I’m broadcasting the Cal Ripken World Series in Branson, Missouri. I’ll be calling 38 games in nine days.

It’s not the Major League Baseball World Series, but for someone that is passionate about play-by-play, I will feel like it is.

Thanks for the memories, Vin, and the great calls.

R.I.P.! You touched the lives of more people than you will ever know.

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