Saturday, August 13, 2005

Saluting a Local Legend

I enjoyed reading an article in the sports section today that "caught up" with Bill Mercer, the former longtime voice of athletics at my alma mater, UNT. Mercer has actually had a really varied career, working high school football, the Cowboys (as well as the AFL's Dallas Texans, before they left for Kansas City to become the Chiefs), the Rangers, for whom he was the original radio voice. But the gig that remains his claim to fame was hosting the program World Championship Wrestling from Dallas' Sportatorium, featuring the exploits of the legendary Von Erich family and their cohorts.

Bill was the play-by-play voice of North Texas athletics for 34 years, and for many of those years, he was a broadcasting instructor at UNT, helping develop the talents of such notables as ESPN's Dave Barnett, the Mavericks' Mark Followill, and The Ticket's Dunham and Miller--the last three being old radio colleagues of mine as well. (He was also the original station manager of KNTU, if memory serves.) Even though I was never a broadcasting student per se, I had the privilege of working with Bill from time to time, cutting some commercials for UNT football games and so on. Even though I was a music student who lucked his way into broadcasting, he treated me as nothing short of a professional, and I think he got me to excel in ways that I thought I never could. I also remember years of listening to away football games, and to him I give the highest compliment one can bestow upon a sports broadcaster: He made you feel like you were at the game.

Bill's nearly 80 years old now, and though his UNT stint ended quite some time ago, he's still in the business, doing weekend games for the Round Rock Express, the Astros' minor-league affiliate that's part-owned by Noaln Ryan. It's great to see him still in the game, because whatever game he's calling is better for it.

(Incidentally, the article says that he's the subject of a charity roast next week at UNT; I wonder if tickets are left.)

Spamalot II: I promise I won't do this every day, but I did get some oddly-titled spam again today...
Re: be open no lodging
He speak he undercover midday
Re: That go go sweet row
Re: so read an ethics

The funny thing is, it's almost always the exact same letter--an ad for a product that claims to help you lose body fat, reduce wrinkles, boost your energy level, and increase your muscle strength, sexual potency, emotional stability and memory. The "snake oil" of a hundred years ago has gone high-tech on us...

Oh nooooooooooo! Brace yourselves for the annual "crunch," fellow North Texans; according to today's paper, the crickets are here early this year.

8 comments:

Jazzy G said...

featuring the exploits of the legendary Von Erich family and their cohorts.

I live on Fritz Lane, as in Fritz Von Erich. They used to own most of the land, and live in this area over here. Corinth Park was built on some of their land. Down the road, Fritz's house is still for sale. Around the corner from that is his son Kevin Atkins' (von Erich was a stage name) house. The family used to take their pets to the vet clinic my Mom worked at so she got to know them really well. We have some tshirts somewhere that they gave Mom back in the day. I can't imagine getting to see the decline of the Atkins brothers first hand. Sad stuff.

Shawn said...

Crickets? I didn't even see the "Albino Squirrels" that I heard so much about during orientation.

Kev said...

Oh, you'll see the crickets once you're down here, Shawn. They usually invade every September, and they'll be crunching under your feet in parking lots all across campus.

As for the albino squirrel, I think there's only one of him, but he has his own website.

Shawn said...

I live in my basement, which is completely finished and recently carpeted, but the crickets don't care. Sometimes I wake up with on staring at me on my bed, sometimes I end up squishing one with my bare feet on my way to the bathroom in the morning (Since I'm near-sighted badly) and often join me in the shower to their ultimate death. Ugh.

Kev said...

What is this "basement" of which you speak? ;-) They pretty much don't exist in Texas, unless the building is on a big slope. And while I do know what one is, having lived in Missouri myself a time or two, I can imagine a native Texan in the non-hilly part of the state going "huh?" when they hear that word.

But crickets in your room...eww. I hope you have better "roommates" when you get to the dorm.

Shawn said...

I see. Until I was about 10 I didn't travel out of Missouri. Then, when I was 11 or 12 I went on all of these business trips with my father and fell in love with travel. It took me about a year to realize practically no one in Louisiana had a basement. Then I found out a lot of people in southern Missouri don't as well (Lots of bedrock and springs). It was... an odd time for growing up.

Kev said...

Oh, and speaking of nature's creatures coming in contact with bare feet early in the morning, remind me to tell you the story of the "blonde rat." Maybe I'll even turn it into a post on a slow news day...

Gary P. said...

I can't imagine getting to see the decline of the Atkins brothers first hand. Sad stuff.

Yeah, it really was. Kerry was never the best technical wrestler, but was decent enough and had charisma in spades. He was never the same after getting hooked on painkillers after losing part of one of his feet in a motorcycle accident in 1986.