John Ward was my broadcasting hero.  My hero passed away last night.  Back in the 1980s when I was forced to sub doing play-by-play on a Lady Cougars basketball broadcast, I had no idea that I would fall head over heals in love with calling a ball game.

It wasn’t long before I decided I wanted to see if I was good enough to maybe climb the play-by-play ladder.  The late Ed Balloff was kind enough to pass along a tape to his best friend, John Ward, for a critique.

I planned the hand-off of the old cassette tape  a few days before the Tennessee Vols were to travel to Starkville to play Mississippi State in basketball.  Balloff drove Ward to all of his UT basketball broadcasts, and I knew there’d be plenty of time to play that tape.

Balloff played it.  Ward listened.  And the review was positive.  That’s all I needed, and I was off and running.  Next stop for me was to broadcast at Carson-Newman.  Then at Miami (Ohio) and Tulane Universities.

Ward was always there over the years.  Never with any advice.  Just encouragement.

Except for broadcasting two winning games at Notre Dame, the highlight of my career was when John and I broadcast the same college basketball game; Tennessee at Miami.  Wow!  I was at one end of press row.  My hero at the other end.  I still have my version and John’s version of the calls.

Thanks for the ride, Hero.  (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 06/21/2018-6AM)