A few years back, I was in the auxiliary press box at Wes Reader Field at the old Pinckney High School.
It was not the main press box, by any means.
It was musty and backed up next to a swamp and, in September, there was no shortage of mosquitoes.
So I was covering, I think, a Pinckney-Hartland game and I was out there with the WHMI broadcast team of Dave Johnson and Bill Simmons.
Things were going pretty smoothly at that point. They talked and I mostly ignored them, having been out of radio for a long time at that point and being a Print Guy, now.
Then Bill was talking about how you could get scores immediately after the game, “instead of waiting for it until Sunday, like in the paper.”
Two things: 1. Them was fightin’ words. 2. The Sunday paper, back then, was at your doorstep at 11 p.m. or so on Saturday night. That might be a distinction without much of a difference. But I was young and ticked off.
So, while Bill and Dave were chuckling away, I jotted a note to Bill, a one-word note that began with letter A and was underlined.
And that, as they say, was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
We had talked about doing broadcasts together over the years, especially after the station dropped live broadcasts a few years later.
Then, early in the 2008 season, my bosses at my old job thought it might be a cool idea to try webcasting games on the job’s Web site.
I figured it would take a few weeks to really get into a rhythm, so I suggested we start right away, rather than during the playoffs, as was being discussed.
There were a couple reasons for that: 1. I knew we would likely need more than a week to iron out any bugs. 2. I knew I needed more than a week to break off the scales after not having announced a game since March 1987.
And so off we went. Bill Simmons, when not on tangents about how my home town of Imlay City should change the name of the Spartans to the Anch-brays (it’s a pig-latin joke that left me speechless, as in struck dumb, the first time I heard it), is a fine, fine announcer.
He fell into a rhythm with me on the first broadcast and we took it from there. When Dave Johnson did a quarter on a broadcast for us this season, you’d have thought they had been going in rhythm for years, instead of a 10-year hiatus.
He’s that good. He’s a step above most people you hear on TV.
It’s fun doing the games with Bill, and I hope you’ve enjoyed our broadcasts over the years.
After a week in California tending to a sick brother, he’ll be in the booth with yours truly on Friday night when Brighton takes on Grand Ledge on our new home, thelivingstonpost.com.
He’s been very patient with our various technical problems over the years, and I learned years ago not to question his sports acumen on the air.
It was early in the first season, with about 90 seconds to go in the first half, and during a timeout I asked him what the team on offense was going to do.
He went into a scenario that would have been plausible, in my mind, if we were talking about the pros. I said, “Really? These are high school teams.”
Then he squinted a little as he looked at me, as if to say, “Just watch,” with a certain word just like the one I’d written down on that note at the end.
The team did exactly as he said it would and scored.
Sometimes, friendships are most beautiful when you just shut the heck up.
And so, the new phase begins, tonight in Grand Ledge. Hope you can pick us up at the link above if you can’t be there.
Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the Twitter feed @timrobinsonse.