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Chicago Bears fans won’t have to listen to Dick Stockton anymore.
After 55 years in sportscasting, the announcer is retiring.
“I just think it’s time,” he told the New York Post, which broke the news Thursday.
The bulk of Stockton’s legacy will be that of a storied sportscasting career. His voice became synonymous with many of the top events he called on national TV.
But his wasn’t the voice of God.
Instead it was all too human, and the 78-year-old Syracuse alumnus also will be remembered as, say, the inspiration for an erstwhile Tribune feature “The Dick Stocktionary,” which offered him helpful hints (such as the fact actor and insurance pitchman Dennis Haysbert pronounces his name De-nis HAZE-burt, not De-nis HAS-burt).
“Dick’s contributions to Fox Sports began on day one of our existence and will be felt for years to come,” Eric Shanks, Fox Sports’ chief executive and executive producer who once was a production assistant for Stockton, said in a statement. “He is a cornerstone of this company.”
Stockton’s career included 17 years at CBS, 19 with Turner and 27 with Fox, where he was among the first hires when the network acquired rights to NFL games in 1994. There also were stints for the as play-by-play announcer for the Boston Red Sox and Oakland A’s.
By Fox’s estimate, he has called at least 1,545 NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL games on network television, which Fox asserted was more than any American sportscaster.
Stockton earlier this year was named to the National Sports Media Association’s Hall of Fame. Other honors include the 2001 Curt Gowdy Electronic Media Award from the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
The 1975-78 voice of the Boston Red Sox on WSBK-TV, Stockton was the announcer NBC viewers heard call Carlton Fisk’s walk-off home run in the 12th inning of Game 6 of the 1975 World Series (“There it goes, a long drive. If it stays fair … home run!”).
It was a career-changing moment, raising his national profile overnight.
Stockton handled play-by-play on nine NBA Finals for CBS, including all three between Magic Johnson’s Los Angeles Lakers and Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics.
Over the years, he also called critical games during Michael Jordan’s rise to prominence with the Bulls, including his 63-point playoff performance against the Celtics in 1986.
Chicago sports fans, however, never have forgotten Stockton referring to a certain Bears coach as “Lovie Jones” or referring to the NBA’s 2011 MVP as the Bulls’ “David Rose.”
“Does it mean I’m too old to be doing this? No,” Stockton told the Tribune 10 years ago. “Does it mean I’ve lost it? No. My mind is going so fast — and I do three different sports — that sometimes there’s a slip of the tongue.”
As Stockton slipped down the from the upper rungs of the Fox announcing rosters, Bears fans began to see his assignment to games as a barometer of how the team was perceived.
Viewers in Chicago (and elsewhere) began to harp on his mistakes and other shortcomings, such as last season when, with a little more than four minutes left to play and the Bears trailing the Tennessee Titans, he said:
“There is always time. And, you know, when you have (an) onside kick, breaks and certain turnovers, you never are out of the game — unless you have no timeouts left and you’re down to the last minute or so.”
In other words, there’s always enough time except when there isn’t, which is indisputably true.
Now it’s Stockton’s time, and he may well miss Chicago as he heads offstage.
“I always say Chicago is my favorite city, and I don’t know what’s second,” he said in 2011.
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