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Calhoun a steadying voice during the craziness at Grizzlies' games


By Rick Broome rbroome@stltoday.com

- Gatewayplay-by-playmanJoePott, who told Calhoun the general manager of the Grizzlies, Tony Funderburke, was interested in having him do the announcing for the games. Calhoun negotiated a favorable deal and accepted the job. His first summer coinc~ded with the Grizzlies' first and only Frontler League championship. "I enjoyed being aro~d baseball again:' Calhoun said. "It was kind of the reason I got involved in broadcasting in the first place. Originally, I wanted to do baseball play-by-play!' Where hockey cruises by, and has that blar-

at an Notinningssilliness average Gateway Grizof lies game, as happens races and the. eyeball between like generate the giddy laughter of hundreds of kids in the stands. As play resumes, however, the rich, buttery baritone of public address announcer Tom Calhoun can be heard calling the rank and file back to order: Calhoun is no minor-league talent, having served in the same position with the St. Louis Blues hockey team since 1987. As good 'as he is behind the microphone, Calhoun could very well have gone through his professionallife never pursuing such a thing. "I never intended to do any of it;' Calhoun . said. "I was working for KXOK radio in 1986 and they had the rights to broadcast Blues hockey games at that time. Part of my job was to cover the team on a daily basis and report on them. "When Charlie Hodges, who had been doing the public address announcing for the Blues, left to take a job with the AnheuserBusch brewery, the Blues management asked me to fill in the rest of the season, at the suggestion of Dan Kelly, Ron Jacober and some of the other broadcasters. They thought I could handle it, I guess!' And handle it he did, so well that the Blues brass asked Calhoun to take the gig fulltime. There was a catch, however, as Calhoun was working for peanuts and it wasn't necessarily worth his time. The club realized his value and negotiated a satisfactory deal and Calhoun accepted the post. From that day until now, Calhoun has never missed a game. The final contest of the 2010-11 season was his 1,098th~arow. "It has been a terrific part of my life;' Calhoun said. "I never anticipated doing that sort of work, but it turns out my training in college and all the play- by'" play work I did early in my career prepared me for it without me knowing it!' Calhoun has seen a lot of changes over the years. His announcements first filled the cozy confines of the barn that was the Arena, back' in the days when the Adam Oates - Brett Hull pairing terrorized opponents and, minus a bad decision or two with the fledgling free agency rules, the Blues would have legitimately contended for a Stanley Cup.

I ing horn to signal the end of proceedings,


baseball is an open -ended affair. A baseball game can be flying along when suddeilly a sloppy inning or a passing shower throws a . wrench into the works and, three - and - ahalf hours later, it finally comes to a close. These marathons are no easier on the guy behind the mic than they are on the players, but one of Calhoun's tricks for maintaining his focus is to keep score as the game goes along. "Sometimes it is pretty tough:' Calhoun said. "Some games there are 25 hits and 18 runs, all the crazy stuff that happens with minor league baseball, and it can be hard to keep your focus.

Grizzlies public address announcer Tom Calhoun, who has held that same role with the St. Louis Blues since 1987, has been with Gateway since 2003. _

Now the club is well into its rebuilding program and Calhoun has a ringside seat at the c-l
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Scottrade Center. "It has been great;' Calhoun said. "Watching the Blues from those days to now has been really something for me. When I first started doing it, I marveled at how hockey players seemed to be wide-eyed and amazed that they were professional athletes. Things have changed a little bit, but hockey players are still more down to Earth than some of the other sports' athletes that we see. "I announced every goal that :(3rett Hull scored in a Blues uniform. Thinking about that and Brendan Shanahan, Adam Oates, Wayne Gretzkyfor a short time, some of the people I have been able to see over the years on a regular basis, is really exciting, especially from where I sit. I am right between the penalty boxes, so I aI}1right there close to the action. It kind of makes me feel like I am part of the team almost!' In 2003, Calhoun was working at KTRS -AM (550) selling advertising part-time. A call to the Grizzlies inquiring about their interest in buying air time led to a lunch with

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"I am just such a sports nut and I have always enjoyed the game of baseball, so I ~an kind of put that stuff to the back of my rmnd and maintain my enthusiasm. It is certainly different from hockey!' His summer gig may not carry the gravitas of his NHL work over the winter, but like all the families that make their way to GCS Ballpark all summer long, Calhoun has a great time. "Like Rich Sauget Sr., the big boss at the Grizzlies, always says - what we are doing here is having a party where a baseball game breaks out:' Calhoun said. "My style of announcing could probably be more flamboyant for the kind cifatmosphere they have at the games, but I have to watch going overboard. I have to maintain a certain approach for the people who happen to know that I am the Blues announcer. "It is certainly an exciting place to do what I do, because of the atlnosphere there and all of the crazy stuff going on. For those people who haven't tried it out, they really should once, just to see what an amazing ~er~nce it is from Major League baseball, which.ls all about the baseball. Minor leagues tend to be about the fun in between innings!'

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