I'll attempt to avoid being too maudlin with this post (Lord knows there has been more than enough anguish to go around this past week), but allow me to offer a few words of praise from a website that has been forced to hand out kind words as often as the Bush Administration hands out art endowments.
Sonic fans are quite lucky to live in a city with three major dailies. Luckier still, we've been blessed for the past couple of years with writers who have never stopped investigating the neverending Sonics-to-Oklahoma story. Unlike The Oklahoman, which forces its writers to check objectivity at the door, in Seattle we have writers who rarely miss a chance to explore a story from all angles, even angles that are detrimental to the city in which they reside.
While some Sonic supporters have castigated these writers (Percy Allen at the Times, Gary Washburn at the PI, Eric Williams at the TNT) for not being all-out supporters of the team while it was in Seattle, those, like me, who appreciate a free press have not. The three main beat writers have also been supported by people like Jayda Evans, Jim Brunner, and Greg Johns, who dug into this story and illustrated it for their readers. I, for one, am appreciative of their efforts.
In many cities, those paragraphs of praise would be the end of it. But a complimentary story on the media in Seattle would not be complete without offering thanks to the man who has provided more memories than anyone in Sonic history — longtime play-by-play man Kevin Calabro.
Calabro gives his devoted listeners a rare combination: a love of the game teamed with a fantastic voice and a unique style. For more than an entire generation, it was KC who taught us to "get on that magic carpet and ride" and to "get on up for the downstroke." Bob Blackburn may have been the Abraham of Sonic broadcasters, but Calabro was the Moses.
While still attending college, I travelled up to Seattle for Christmas break one year, and with friends in tow, attempted to get to a Sonics game. Like all early-20s endeavors we were long on intentions and short on execution. Having missed the opening tip, we were driving in a frenzy through Seattle looking for a bar to watch the game. Calabro kept us up to date on the car radio, as he has for so many others over the past decades. At one point, Shawn Kemp rose up and threw down what must have been an especially memorable dunk.
"Oh, Reignman!" Calabro intoned, "Nobody do the voodoo like you do!" It was a singular moment that drew a massive cheer from our overcrowded car, and it was a moment that stays with me to this day. A great broadcaster is more than just a voice on the radio or television, he is a friend sitting alongside you, a representative for you at the game.
Thanks, KC, Percy, Gary, Eric, and all the rest. You've made being a Sonic fan more enjoyable. I hope there's more to come.