Mike Emrick would be the first to admit his Hall of Fame broadcasting career might not have gotten on track had it not been for the assistance of Bob Chase-Wallenstein.
Emrick has called NHL games for several major networks, while also serving as the voice of the Philadelphia Flyers from 1988-93 and the New Jersey Devils from 1983-86 and 1993-2011. He received the Lester Patrick Award in 2004 and the Hockey Hall of Fame's Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for outstanding contributions to hockey broadcasting in 2008.
He was also the first hockey broadcaster to earn a national Emmy Award for "Outstanding Sports Personality, Play by Play," which he did in 2011 -- beating out the likes of Joe Buck, Jim Nantz, Bob Costas, Al Michaels and Verne Lundquist.
Bob Chase-Wallenstein helped get Mike Emrick on track with his broadcasting career. (Photo: Getty Images)
Emrick has always been ready and willing to share his memorable stories of Chase, whom he considers a close personal friend.
"When you're in college and you want to meet a celebrity, you come up with the idea of doing a term paper," Emrick told NHL.com. "You call them up and you say, 'I'm doing a term paper on sports broadcasting, would you have 10 minutes to talk to me?' And, of course, [Chase] did."
Chase certainly left a lasting impression that day.
"I went over to the studio in Fort Wayne and he gave me some of his time and actually dubbed off one of the goal calls that I really thought was terrific," Emrick said. "And then, lo and behold, I end up in the IHL working in the same facility as the guy who was broadcasting the first game I ever saw in 1960."
The International Hockey League contest played that evening between the Fort Wayne Komets and Muskegon Zephyrs had a profound impact on Emrick, who was 14 years old at the time.
"It was Dec. 10, 1960," Emrick said. "I had wanted to be a baseball announcer until that night. When I got out of that place, things were different."
LESTER PATRICK AWARD
Patrick Trophy honors Chase-Wallenstein
By Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer
A fixture for six decades at WOWO in Fort Wayne Ind., he'll receive the Lester Patrick Trophy at the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony. READ MORE ›
On Monday, Chase, who enters his 60th season as the radio voice of the Komets in Fort Wayne, Ind., will receive the Lester Patrick Trophy for his outstanding service to hockey in the United States.
"Mike [Emrick] was a devout baseball fan, but once he listened to his first hockey game he said, 'Oh my goodness, this is the sport I want.' That's when he came to me and just laid it out there, saying, 'How in the world can I ever get to be a hockey announcer?'" Chase recalled. "That's what he wanted to do with his life."
Chase can recall those ensuing meetings with Emrick as if they took place yesterday.
"He'd come in to the Coliseum, bring his little handheld recorder and go up in the corner of the press box where I worked," Chase said. "I told him that whatever he saw, to talk about it in his vocabulary and with his vernacular. Be yourself, and if it came out the way he liked, listen to it.
"You could still describe in a word picture what's going on so people will listen, and that's what you want," he continued. "The minute you try to be someone you're not, you're never going to be able to live with it because you're always pretending. But Michael is Michael … he's one hell of a kid."
Among all U.S. broadcasters, only Vin Scully (Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers) has been with the same team longer than Chase with the Komets, who now play in the Central Hockey League. When told of that, Chase chuckled.
"Vin got the record by default since he started in Brooklyn," Chase said. "I've been in Fort Wayne all that time."
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