If you listen to Dan Hoard and me on the PawSox Radio Network, you are hopefully entertained and informed on a nightly basis. I think I promised in a past column that I would tell you about how we connected years ago. Since we are playing Syracuse, now seems to be a good time to tell the tale. I was living in Syracuse in the late ’80s, a salesman for Dale Carnegie Training. (How to Win Friends and Influence People). I made a sales call to MacArthur Stadium, the home of the Syracuse Chiefs. I parlayed the meeting into a gig as the Public Address announcer at the ballpark. That season, I met a young broadcaster named Dan Hoard. We became friendly and I confided to him that I secretly would love to be a sportscaster, but alas, at age 25 or 26 I feared I was over the hill. He assured me that I could do it. He directed me to a class at Onondaga Community College for sportscasting. Vinny Spadafora was the teacher and Vinny would broadcast high school sports on a local station. He would use his students as volunteers to work the sidelines or as analysts. Since I was a little older than the rest of the class, I jumped in with both feet. I’d work games on Friday nights and Saturday mornings or whenever Vinny had one. The younger students were either out partying or nursing hangovers. I taped myself and Dan would critique the tapes for me. Eventually I was hired to do morning sports on a station in Cortland N.Y. After a couple of months I was hired at WHEN in Syracuse, the competitor of Dans’ station, WSYR. After a few more months, with Dan still mentoring me, he hired me to work with him at WSYR. Shortly after that, he left to work at WTVH television under Mike Tirico. With a little more than a year of experience, I was made the sports director at WSYR. We broadcast Syracuse University football and basketball. I was involved in every aspect of the broadcast. Dan and I would chat occasionally and run into each other while covering stories. When he left for Cincinnati, I was a finalist to replace him at Channel 5, but I was beaten out by a fellow named Rob King. I was eventually hired as the play by play voice of the Chiefs and spent three seasons there. Thanks to Dan, I learned an awful lot about the business. Fast forward to 2006 and the PawSox tell me that they’re hiring him to be my partner. I think the chemistry was immediately apparent. I can’t speak for him (although I think I can)- we have a great time. We laugh hard every day and we’re both doing something we love. It’s even better when you do it with someone you respect and like.
Congratulations to Jeff Bailey on his most recent promotion to Boston. He takes Mike Lowells’ roster spot (hip). The other day Bailey was talking about his strong interest in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and particularly a Russian fighter named Fedor. “Bails” encouraged me to check out one of Fedor’s bouts on Youtube. I immediately saw why Jeff was drawn to this guy. Outsized, by most opponents, Fedor is known for his tenacity and his ability to think on his feet. Throw in incredible toughness and that completes the package. Fedor sounds an awful lot like Jeff Bailey.