Legendary broadcaster Joe Tait is like an old family friend to three generations of Cleveland sports fans. This book celebrates his hall-of-fame career with stories from Joe and dozens of fans, media colleagues, and players. It's co-written with Joe by award-winning sportswriter Terry Pluto. What made Joe Tait so special? Fans believed him. He was "one of us." He made the game come alive, and wasn't afraid to speak his mind--even when it might get him in trouble with the coach or the owners. He was a throwback, a purist. Despite the bling and flash that has become so much a part of pro sports, for Joe the game always came first. Northeast Ohioans know Tait best as the voice of the Cleveland Cavaliers. He called the radio play-by-play from the team's first year in the NBA, 1970, until his retirement in 2011 (with the exception of two years in the early 1980s). His animated voice and no-nonsense announcing brought the excitement of the game home to listeners, from the "Miracle at Richfield" to the LBJ years. Many also fondly recall him as one of the best play-by-play announcers ever to broadcast Cleveland Indians games (1973 to 1987) and as the longtime announcer for Mount Union football. In high school, Joe loved sports but wasn't always good enough to make the team. Then he discovered play-by-play announcing. Combining two passions, he began to carefully build a broadcasting career that would eventually touch the lives of countless other sports fans. Pluto weaves a roughly chronological narrative that hits the highlights of a long career. It also uncovers some touching personal details. For example, one chapter describes how Joe's father, a stern man with a deep-rooted distrust of black people, came to become good friends with Cavaliers center Nate Thurmond, to Joe's surprise and delight. With fans, Joe was often more popular than the players on the court--especially during the Cavs' dimmer days. When notoriously incompetent team owner Ted Stepien fired Joe in the 1980s, fans protested and staged a rally in his honor. When new owner Gordon Gund took over the team, the first thing did was hire Joe back. "He is the franchise," Gund said. "To have a basketball team in Cleveland, you have to have Joe Tait." His work inspired a generation of young broadcasters. Language he invented became part of the common broadcast language in Northeast Ohio. "Left to right on your radio dial" . . . "Wham, with the right hand" . . . "It's a beautiful day for baseball!" . . . "To the line, to the lane . . ." The stories in this book will make fans feel like they're sitting alongside Joe enjoying a play-by-play recap of the remarkable career they shared together.
About the Author
Terry Pluto is a sports columnist for the Plain Dealer. He has twice been honored by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the nation s top sports columnist for medium-sized newspapers. He is a nine-time winner of the Ohio Sports Writer of the Year award and has received more than 50 state and local writing awards. In 2005 he was inducted into the Cleveland Journalism Hall of Fame. He is the author of 23 books, including The Curse of Rocky Colavito (selected by the New York Times as one of the five notable sports books of 1989), and Loose Balls, which was ranked number 13 on Sports Illustrated s list of the top 100 sports books of all time. He was called Perhaps the best American writer of sports books, by the Chicago Tribune in 1997. He lives with his wife, Roberta, in Akron, Ohio.