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Blackhawks Fri Jun 06 2014
While this city hasn't had much to cheer about over the years in terms of having a last team standing (Blackhawks 2010 and 2013 not withstanding), there's at least one thing for sure that resonates with fans from Lake County, Illinois down to Lake County, Indiana and everywhere around it, and that's the memories of the voices calling the action that have led us along the way.
The Cubs had Harry Caray and Jack Brickhouse before him; Sox fans have enjoyed the Hawk lo these years, although that might depend on who you ask; the Bears also had Brickhouse for a little over 20 years calling the action; the Hawks had long stretches of Bob Elson, Lloyd Pettit, and currently Pat Foley, whose 30-plus years behind the mic makes him the longest tenured in team history.
With the exception of Harrelson (he's been a Ford C. Frick finalist a few times) Caray, Brickhouse, Pettit and Elson are all hall-of-famers in their respective sport. On Monday, Nov. 17, Foley will receive his long-awaited Foster Hewitt Memorial Award in Toronto and will be immortalized forever, entering the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Foley grew up in north suburban Glenview, and eventually made his way to the Hawks broadcast booth by way of Loyola Academy in Wilmette and Michigan State University. He's been paired with the likes of Keith Magnuson, Dale Tallon, Bill Gardner, Troy Murray and Eddie Olczyk, and even spent a two-year stint with the Chicago Wolves from 2006 to 2008, leaving Dan Kelly to replace him.
Those two years with Kelly weren't bad, but it didn't seem right without that high-pitched yelp of Foley's calling the action for 60 minutes. Not to mention the fact that he was fired during a dismal part of Blackhawks history, talent-wise, which seemed like a low blow from an old owner who was set in his ways.
Of course as soon as Rocky Wirtz took over and John McDonough was brought in, Foley got his job back calling games for a team that was on the rise with a newfound sense of talent and pride. You know the rest from there (time sure does fly by when everything seems to be working).
No matter your take on Foley -- at times he seems to show his age a little by missing a play here and there -- there's no doubt his voice is just as synonymous with Blackhawks hockey as any of the aforementioned old timers are with their respective team. And, yes, his "tree-tirty-tree left in da tird" comments might wear a little thin at times, but for every one who might get annoyed there are those who can't get enough of it.
It doesn't matter if it's October, the middle of February or the end of the regular season, he finds a way to keep it fun while calling the action. He's also not afraid to tell it like it is, like the time he tore into Alexander Karpovtsev during a broadcast.
Kudos to Pat Foley on reaching the Hall. It's an award well deserved for a man who has created a lot of great calls for those of us to mimic along the way as well as a lot of great memories.