Dan Hoard makes his debut as the Bengals preseason play-by-play TV man Sunday when Channel 12 in Cincinnati tape delays the Bengals-Broncos for an 11:30 p.m. run.
But Hoard’s voice is as familiar as a favorite uncle around these parts as the current radio voice of University of Cincinnati football and basketball.
Funny. Quick. Reliable. Can do anything. Change your oil, paint your house, cook a burger. Hoard can call a Big East semifinal, the nightcap of Triple A baseball game, and wrap up a teeming day in sports jammed into a three-minute window like he used to do as the anchor for Cincinnati’s Fox 19.
I go back a little longer with Hoard. Like back to the creation. You can go back and read about it, but that’s back when newspaper clippings hung around long enough to yellow.
It was 1987 (with apologies to Kid Rock my hair was always short) and we were both grinding to get ahead in the business. As always, Hoard was a step ahead of me as the radio voice of the Triple A Syracuse Chiefs and I was covering Syracuse University football for the Syracuse Herald-Journal.
Yeah, long time ago. Back when it was a two-paper town and a good one.
How long ago? Back when you didn’t have to blog, tweet, stream, video, sing, dance, tell jokes 24 and 7 on one beat 365 days a year. So we did a little bit of everything and for a few weeks that spring I was also doing the TV/Radio column for the H-J.
Thinking I was brilliant, I decided to write a Hoard profile by letting him grant my biggest wish in sports: Broadcast three innings of radio play-by-play. God love him, he did. Of course, how he didn’t get fired and I didn’t get institutionalized is a fair question.
You know Hoard. He’s out of that Syracuse assembly line of smooth in the tradition of Bob Costas and Mike Tirico. These guys don’t announce. They purr. No hesitation. Unflinching recall. They were talking laptops before Apple was in Steve Wozniak’s eye.
I, on the other hand, was a scribe with a stutter like Rondo before he went down the lane against Kobe and an accent like sandpaper.
My Red Sox radio role models were Ken Coleman and Ned Martin. Easy. Folksy.
“Rocking chair inning.”
“Up into the darkness of the net.”
“Towhead Jerry Adair.”
“Schaefer is the one beer to have when you’re having more than one.”
While other kids were memorizing the top 40 or love poems, I was spitting back home run calls: “If you just turned on your radio, it’s happened again. Yaz has hit a three-run homer and it’s now 6-2 Red Sox.”
So this is what Hoard gets. And it’s not going too badly until Billy Bean comes to the plate. Or Billy Beane. I can’t remember. The problem is, I couldn’t then, either.
This is when Billy Bean and Billy Beane both populated the minors, naturally. So I launch into everything I know about the Billy Bean(e) I think he is. Has to be a two-minute soliloquy. Very incisive if I do say so myself. Hoard, with Vegas timing, can’t resist.
“That’s great, Geoff, but that’s not the same Billy Bean(e),” he says, calmly waiting for the third out before both of us erupt. He in laughter, me in angst.
The rest of the stint is a blur. Except they must have broken a record for most foul balls in a minor-league game for three innings, and each one I gamely greeted with “Spilled foul.”
When Hoard got the Bengals job a few months ago and we reminisced about that night, he offered, “All I know is there was a lot of spillage.”
And he was on the phone Friday again because that’s what he always does: His homework. Why he should think I could help him after that night is a wonder, but I gave him a few thoughts as he ran down the roster to help his prep. Of course, he couldn’t resist. Noting my Michael Johnson story, he innocently asked, “That’s not the guy who was the fastest man in the world, is it?”
Enjoy Hoard on Sunday and the rest of the preseason. You’ll have a good show.
And it’s not as easy as it sounds.
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