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Greetings from The Booth!
With Shenandoah University men’s basketball coming to an end this week in the ODAC Tournament, the book closes on a great broadcasting era at SU. Men’s basketball play-by-play voice Mike O’Dell has decided to hang up the headphones after a run that goes all the way back to the late 80’s. In that period of time Mike has taken us through the ups and downs of Hornet Hoop, from the NCAA years of Dave Dutton to the present, where times have been a bit tough. In every instance, Mike has been a professional (even with an occasional jab at an official) and has made even the losses seem exciting. Anyone who has ever done play-by-play knows how tough that can be. I had the pleasure of working with Mike through the early Dutton years, and several seasons in the 2000’s when I came to the River 95-3/WZRV, “The Flagship For SU Athletics,” and the thing I remember most are the many stories from the road we accumulated. Maybe we’ll write a book one day. Mike, I hope you enjoy your post-broadcast years, but as we both know, play-by-play gets in your blood and never leaves. Hornet fans will certainly miss your passion for SU and your golden tones…
Another goodbye, this one permanently, as we lost Washington receiver Charley Taylor this past weekend. Taylor, a Pro Football Hall Of Famer, retired as the leading NFL receiver of all time (he has since fallen to 67th all-time), but you can look up the stats for yourself. Charley came to the ‘Skins in the mid-60’s as a running back and could have excelled at that position, if it weren’t for the fumbles. After 2 seasons at running back he was converted to a wide-receiver and the rest is history. Taylor, along with Bobby Mitchell and Jerry Smith, became part of one of the most prolific receiving corps in the NFL, hauling in the passes of Sonny Jurgensen. Those were mainly losing years for Washington, until the arrival of Vince Lombardi and George Allen, when Charley saved his best for the big games. In the 1972 NFC Championship, Taylor hauled in 2 Billy Kilmer TD passes, as Washington mauled the hated Cowboys at RFK Stadium 26-3. And, there was the familiar Charley Taylor “touchdown” pose after every score. Thanks for the memories, number 42…
Finally, a goodbye to Ryan Zimmerman, who last week retired after spending his entire career as a Washington National. Zim was drafted by the Nats out of UVA and almost immediately gave baseball-starved fans in DC a glimpse of how bright the future could be, even in those early losing years. When the Montreal Expos franchise came to Washington as the fledgling Nationals, my long-dormant passion for baseball was reignited, and Zimmerman was a big reason. On a roster full of names like Lastings Milledge, Zim was a homegrown talent, and even as the losses piled up, one could see that he was a core player that you could build team around. Zim was “the king of the walkoff,” with 11 career game-ending home runs. I was fortunate enough to see one of those at RFK while hosting a Nationals baseball trip for several of our listeners. And it’s only fitting that after toiling through the lean years, that he finally got his ring several years ago. When all is said and done, Zim may not get to Cooperstown, but he is certainly a Hall-Of-Famer in the hearts of DC baseball fans.
Until the next visit, thank you Mo, Charley, and Zim…and GO HORNETS!