July 1, 2016

Partly sunny

Broadcasting legend Joe Tait still has it

AVON –– Cleveland broadcasting legend Joe Tait has been enjoying his retirement after 39 years calling Cavaliers games.

But he took a moment Thursday to join his friend, WEOL’s Tim Alcorn, in the broadcast booth for the Lake Erie Crushers’ game at All Pro Freight Stadium against the Evansville Otters.

Tait and Alcorn called the game with Crushers regular play-by-play voice Andy “Bull” Barch. This was Tait’s second time in the last two seasons lending a hand with the call of a Crushers’ game, and he enjoys it.

“I enjoy these types of things, I really do,” said Tait, whose wife, Jean, also took in the game as a guest in the press box. “I love coming out here and watching the Crushers play because it’s a brand of sport that I like, I can enjoy, I can relate to. I’ve certainly had my fill of the high-priced pro sports scene.

“To come here, it’s much more enjoyable to watch these guys play and work their fannies off, starting at the bottom of the ladder looking to climb up. It’s a very positive sports experience. I don’t want to lose my contact with sports completely, but at the same time, I don’t particularly want anything to do with professional sports.

“This is as close to the amateur game, along with high school and Mount Union, where it’s an enjoyable experience. I would urge anybody who has not been out here to come out and give it a look. I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised.”

Tait, a Lafayette Township resident, said retirement has been “very enjoyable.”

“My wife Jean has been in the horse racing business while I was doing basketball and baseball, and we had a lot of things pile up in the house,” he said. “Not that we were looking like hoarders, but we had our share of stuff jammed into corners in boxes. We’ve been slowly but surely hoeing our way through all of that, putting things in order and sending it on its way.”

Tait will call Mount Union football again this fall and may join Alcorn and the WEOL team for another high school basketball game this winter.

“This is my seventh year with the Purple Raiders, and I’m staying until they put the elevator in the press box,” he said. “At least one season, I want to ride to the top of that press box rather than walk.”

Tait recently collaborated with veteran sportswriter Terry Pluto on a book, called “It’s Been a Real Ball.” The book was released in December and has gotten favorable feedback.

“The reaction has been very, very good,” Tait said. “I don’t follow it all that closely as far as numbers of copies sold. I know the publisher is pleased and Terry Pluto is pleased, and I guess if those two are pleased, I should be pleased, too.

“I gave Pluto about 20 scrapbooks that I kept for him to read and told him to come up with some follow-up questions. Then, I had him back out at the house to sit down and talk about it. That’s really how the book was put together.”

Tait has not followed the Cavs at all since he stopped calling their games at the end of the 2010-11 season.

“I may be the only guy in the world who’s never seen Kyrie Irving play,” he said. “When I retired, that was it. I told the security guy that walked out with me , ‘This quite possibly will be the last time I’ll ever be in this building.’ I just put it all behind me and moved on to other things.

“I have no regrets. It’s not a decision I took lightly, but it’s one I believe in. When you retire, you retire. You don’t go lurking around the ballpark in retirement. I don’t believe in that.”

Contact Dan Gilles at (440) 329-7135 or dangilles73@gmail.com.