If you are of a certain age, you can remember relying on the radio announcers for coverage of your favorite sports team. Their voices brought you into the stadium, and closer to your team. Seriously kids, there was a time when not every game was being broadcast or live streamed. Developing a love for sports could be determined by how well your local announcer described the game. The passion he instilled in you through his words, could last a lifetime.
The Voices of the South Carolina Gamecocks
Bob Fulton was the voice of the Gamecocks for 43 years. Covering football, basketball, and baseball at the University of South Carolina from 1952-1994. At the time of his retirement in 1995, his tenure with USC was the 4th longest among NCAA broadcasters with one school. He became the first non-coach or athlete to be inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990. I still remember as a youngster listening to him call football games. Having grown up just before the recent technological boom that now allows instant access to everything, especially sporting events; I have a great appreciation for the radio broadcasts and the ability to paint a picture with their voices.
Since Fulton retired as the most legendary of Gamecock radio voices, the filling of his shoes has been done more by committee than one man. Luckily the lineage of great announcers that began with him did not end with him as well. We have been fortunate to have some very talented people lend their voices to the microphone over the past two decades. I recently had had a chance to catch up with a few of these men ask them a few questions. They were kind enough to share some insight into their experiences announcing Gamecock sports.
What was your favorite Call, or moment while broadcasting a Gamecock Sporting event?
Andy Demetra (Former voice for Gamecock Basketball and Baseball) – “For obvious reasons, I’ll always remember the national championship versus UCLA in 2010. It was humbling to call a moment that meant so much too so many people. Truthfully, Bob Fulton deserved to have that call – I just hope I did him justice. As far as sheer drama, nothing will top Game 1 of the 2011 CWS championship series versus Florida. Sometimes when you’re calling a game, you’re aware it’s crossed over into the surreal. That was definitely one of those nights. I felt privileged to be a part of it.
For basketball, I like to think my favorite moment is still ahead of me. I’m really excited for the future of the program under Frank Martin. If I had to choose, though, I’ll always look back fondly on the wins over Kentucky at Colonial Life Arena in 2010 and 2014. You could sense something special in the air those nights. Plus I avoided major bodily harm during the court storms, which was a bonus.”
Tommy Moody (Former Player & current analyst for Gamecock Baseball) – “My favorite baseball moment, other than Whit Merrifield’s base hit that won the long-awaited national title in 2010 which is the automatic response, it would be Christian Walker’s home run at Coastal Carolina just a couple of weeks earlier. This propelled the Gamecocks to the win that got us back to Omaha. I think my favorite call when I personally was doing play-by-play came on Sunday, April 30, 2006, at Sarge Frye Field. In one of the greatest games ever played at that historic venue…senior Michael Campbell, the” Winchester Rifle”, blasted a walk-off home run to the railroad tracks that stunned Mississippi State, 9-7 in 11 innings.”
Todd Ellis (former QB, current Football Play by Play)- “My favorite call was the Ace Sanders 70-yard punt return against Georgia in 2012 that put Carolina up 21-0 in the first quarter.”
Mike Morgan (Former Play by Play for both Gamecock Hoops and Baseball) – “So many great moments behind the mic, it’s hard to pick one. I would say the one I still get people tell me about is the 2002 “Miami Miracle”. People still remember the call of “Pack your bags Columbia, for the first time in 17 years, the Gamecocks are going to Omaha. It was the game that set the wheels in motion for the program to become elite. It was a remarkable 9th inning comeback with some crazy circumstances surrounding it. The Tarrence Kinsey buzzer beater in New York to win the first NIT championship would also rank up there. A sleeper pick would be the Mike Rathe/Troy Williamson last-second TD pass to win in 2004. We called that on PPV on a cold Saturday night in Lexington.”
Brad Muller (Current Women’s Basketball Play by Play)- “Without a doubt, the biggest thrill was calling the national championship game last season in Dallas. It was gratifying from a professional standpoint because you never know when or if you will ever get the opportunity to work a national championship. On a more personal level, it was great because I arrived on the scene a year before Coach Staley was hired. So, to see her build the program the right way year after year, and to have all those efforts pay off for her, her staff, and her players, was truly a satisfying moment.”
Derek Scott (Current Play by Play for Men’s Basketball and Baseball)- “Without question, it would be the win over Florida that advanced South Carolina into the Final Four. Counting down the seconds to the conclusion of that game, and knowing what it meant for South Carolina fans, our listeners, was amazing.”
Has there been a performance, individual or team, Gamecock or opponent, that you were truly wowed by and felt privileged to witness?
AD- “Game 1 of the 2011 CWS championship series will always set the standard of excellence for me. Wingo’s dive, Beary’s pick, Jake Williams’ throw, Walker’s steal – those moments will be burned in my memory forever. Last summer I tried to calculate the odds that the Gamecocks overcame in the late innings to win it, and it blew my mind. I doubt I’ll ever see a game like that again. South Carolina won 22 straight NCAA Tournament games from 2010 to 2012 – that record will never be touched. Tommy and I still smile over our good fortune that we were able to witness it.”
TM- “Having never done Gamecock basketball, my favorite radio moment from that sport came from Bob Fulton in March of 1971. With just five seconds to play and the Gamecocks trailing North Carolina, 51-50, Six-foot three inch Hall of Famer Kevin Joyce outjumped 6’10” Lee Dedmon of UNC. He tapped the jump ball to Tom Owens, who laid it in the basket. This gave USC its only ACC basketball championship and helped erase the memory a stunning defeat to NC State in the title game a year earlier. As for my witnessing a special performance, I was sitting near courtside the night John Roche pumped in a record 56 points in Carolina’s 118-83 rout of Furman on Feb 4th, 1971.”
TE- “There have been a few. Jadeveon Clowney’s five sacks against Clemson in 2012; Melvin Ingram’s fake punt for a touchdown and his scoop and score in 2011 at Georgia; Pharoh Cooper’s 233 receiving yards against Tennessee in 2014.”
MM- “2000 and 2002 baseball teams. 2000 team was so special and full of characters. I could write a book on that gang. 2002 team because of the remarkable path to Omaha, and run the team made once it got there. The 2004-2006 basketball teams. They are overlooked on how talented they were because they didn’t have a run in the NCAA tournament. The ’04 team made it to the Big Dance. The nucleus of that team won the NIT the next and nearly won the SEC tournament in ’06. Balkman and Kinsey were NBA players. Tre Kelly was a special player and leader. Carlos Powell had NBA ability. That team could have done so much more, but make no mistake about it, it was very talented.”
BM– “There are too many “wow” moments to count. Off the top of my head, you have to start with the National Championship. The Gamecocks ran the table in the postseason without their All-American center, Alaina Coates, who was injured at the end of the regular season. Allisha Gray stood out to me because she not only had a lot of great moments offensively, but the way she played defensively was inspiring. Due to the injury to Coates, Gray often guarded the “four” (forward) position in the postseason games, and even though she was out-sized, she shut them all down. That was a big part of the team’s success during that run in my opinion. She is just a wonderful young lady.
There are so many individuals that have been wonderful to cover. Tiffany Mitchell was a special player because she could do everything, and her sense of humor off the court just added to her legendary status. Her impromptu dance behind Paul Finebaum at Colonial Life Arena still makes me laugh (google it!). Aleighsa Welch was another favorite because of how hard she worked and how hard she played every night. She made up for lack of size with a lot of heart, and she was a great interview. “
DS– “During the NCAA Tournament last season, the way Sindarious Thornwell led the way was unbelievable. He truly rose to the occasion on the biggest stage, just as he had done all season. A couple of other performances that stood out to me over the years here in Columbia were Devan Downey’s epic night to upset #1 Kentucky at the CLA in 2010. From a team standpoint, the game South Carolina played in football against Georgia in 2012. Complete domination of a top 10 team.”
Where/what was the best atmosphere you can recall being at for a Gamecock game?
AD- “The Georgia game at Williams-Brice Stadium in 2012 will always stand out. I was doing the play-by-play that night for SportSouth. The noise inside the stadium was indescribable. The way the Gamecocks dominated a rival, in prime time, in a matchup of top-6 teams. With so much hype leading into the game, it created an alchemy you rarely see in sports. I’d also go with the following week when the Gamecocks played LSU in a night game at Tiger Stadium. Imagine putting a 50-gallon drum over your head and having a half-dozen people pound it with baseball bats for four hours. That’s what it felt like.
In baseball, the first NCAA Regional game versus Clemson in 2012 was so unbelievably intense. You rarely feel a baseball crowd like that, where there’s edginess from the opening pitch that never dies down. I’d also throw in Rosenblatt in 2010, simply because it was the last year of the ballpark and you felt that weight of history. Honorable mention goes to the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu for the Diamond Head Classic in basketball. Come on, it’s Hawaii.”
TM- “It would be hard to top the night of Nov. 10th, 1984. The undefeated Gamecocks whipped top-10 Florida State, 38-26 on national tv, having roared out to a 38-7 lead. Williams-Brice Stadium was literally swaying when Raynard Brown returned the second half kickoff for a touchdown. This win propelled Carolina into the No. 2 spot in the national rankings the following week. Actually, the next night the Gamecocks were indeed ranked number one by the fledgling news network, CNN on their 11:30 pm weekend sports recap.”
TE-“Williams-Brice versus Georgia in 2012, Sanford Stadium in 2009 and LSU in 1993.”
MM- “I always loved calling football games in The Swamp, basketball games at Rupp Arena, and baseball games in Baton Rouge. I was privileged to call several games at those venues. Also, calling a basketball game at Allen Fieldhouse in Kansas was incredible. I’m Not sure if there is a better place to call a basketball game. I’ve since been able to call games in other great venues for ESPN such as Cameron Indoor Arena.”
BM– “In terms of atmosphere, there are so many women’s basketball games over the last four years that have been tremendous. To see between 15,000-18,000 fans at Colonial Life Arena for most of the SEC games is just fun.”
“I had the good fortune to work some memorable football games as well. When the Gamecocks beat No. 1 Alabama at Williams-Brice, I think everyone will remember where they were. The win here over Ole Miss a few years back, when the Rebels were ranked in the top 10, was pretty nuts as well. In terms of a road game, the game in Athens a few years back when Melvin Ingram ran the fake punt in for a touchdown was a great atmosphere because of all the momentum swings in the game.”
DS– “ Bon Secours Wellness Center during the first 2 rounds of the NCAA Tournament was electric. Although I was under a headset and couldn’t truly experience the loudness of the building, I have had a couple of folks from the athletics department, whose opinions I value, tell me that they had not been in a louder building than that for a Gamecock event. Home or away.”
I would like to thank these gentlemen for being kind enough to share some memories with me. Also for being a part of many of my Gamecock memories as the voices behind some very special moments. I also want to give a nod to Charlie McAlexander. The former basketball announcer in the late 90’s and a favorite of mine. We have been blessed at our school with some extremely talented and gracious men in position to bring their voices to University of South Carolina athletics.
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