Goodbye, Uncle Verne

Today was the final time we will hear the dark, rich voice of Steve “Uncle” Verne Lundquist call the shots on the air for his final March Madness game.

It was merely months ago that we said goodbye to him on the football field. Now, the hardwood will have to go on without him.

I had always liked sports as a kid, but it wasn’t until the end of highschool that I knew I wanted to devote my life to them. It was even later until I decided I wanted a future in broadcasting.

I remember sitting in the back of my parents truck after the Patchogue Christmas parade, more frozen than I’ve ever been. Driving back from town to our home in the suburbs was non stop bumper to bumper traffic for miles. We put on the Iron Bowl broadcast in our car.

You lose something when you only have one sense at your disposal, in this case hearing. But there was something magical about that moment.

Hearing Verne’s voice crescendo in disbelief was an unforgettable moment. A field goal returned for a touchown is such a rare occurrence, seeing (or in this case, hearing) one to serve as the exclamation point to one of the most incredible finishes in college football lore was indescribable.

Verne became a part of a lot of people’s stories that night. Stories they’ll pass on to their children the same way any parent describes a particularly potent sports moment: With the call.

“The Giants win the Pennant!” “Do you believe in miracles? YES!” “The band is out on the field!”

And now, Verne wrote his own chapter. He has effectively been immortalized.

Verne did things his own way. He never stopped being amazed and impressed at things. He never became jaded, and he never lost his sense of humor.

I should note, Verne is going to continue broadcasting the Masters for CBS. But sports fans will miss him every fall Saturday and March.

Farewell, Uncle Verne.

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