Friday, November 28, 2008

The voice of God

A quick personal story about one of the newest members of the Buffalo Sabres' Hall of Fame:

In October of 1986, I was just starting a new job in the public relations department. One of my responsibilies, I found out early on, was to be Sabres' "second" public address announcer. I was to give the promotional announcements, sponsorship deals, giveaways, three stars, etc. over the p.a., while the regular announcer saved his golden throat for the important matters like goal announcements and "last minute of play in this period."

That "other announcer" was Milt Ellis, who had been with the Sabres in that role since Day One and had worked for the Bisons before that.

In Game One in 1986, two high school friends were in attendance. They may have known I had started working for the Sabres, but they didn't know about my new responsibility. At some point, I turned on the microphone and spoke for several seconds.

One of those friends, thinking of Ellis, said, "Who is that wimpy voice?"

The other thought for a moment, and then replied, "I think it's Budd!"

Milt Ellis, as you can see, was a hard act to follow.

I got to know Milt a bit in the years to come. I'd write up the odd announcement for him and coordinate matters so we didn't talk over each other. He'd come in for each game always in good humor and with a smile on his face. Milt worked for a religious radio station in town, WDCX, so he had the nickname of "the voice of God." No wonder the "other" announcing job was handed over to someone else in a few years; I was much better off running the press box that trying to help the team with my voice.

Milt lasted 26 seasons on the Sabres' job. Afterwards, he was a frequent visitor to the press box to watch games. Milt was good company when we sat together. He always asked about our common alma mater, Syracuse University, as we compared notes about the ups and downs of the football and basketball teams. What's more, Milt was always a class act and a gentleman.

Tonight, Milt went into the Sabres' Hall with Dave Andreychuk. It's a well-deserved honor, and overdue. Congratulations, old friend.


Suzie said...

As a throwback to the Mad Hatter days at the Aud, I still say, "Hey, Milt, how much time is left?" when the clock winds down to about 1:03. Last night, in the third period, it was Milt who answered me, over the PA system from the press box, "Last minute of play, in regulation time." Aaaaahhhh...

Glenn Locke, The Tall Thin Guy said...

When will the Sabres be inducting Budd Baily to the Hall.
-one of those voices, I think (the 80's are a bit cloudy to me)