Thursday, March 6, 2014

Bill Bromberg's Busy Day

TigerBlog's favorite PA announcer is, well, TigerBlog.

Of course, it's possible he's not being objective.

TigerBlog likes to be the PA announcer at events, especially Princeton football, which has been his main PA job for the last decade.

TB can't remember who the PA announcer was for Princeton football when he first started covering the team and then working at Princeton, and it's going to bother him all day. He does know that eventually he got his old friend Jim Chesko to be the Palmer Stadium PA announcer, and a woman named Wendy Herm - who played softball at Princeton - was the PA announcer when Princeton Stadium opened.

Eventually, John McAdams became the Princeton football PA man.

McAdams is one of TB's favorite people who has ever walked this planet. And the best PA announcer of all-time. In fact, he is the only person TB has ever heard of who made an entire career of doing public address.

McAdams was a giant of a man, probably more than 400 pounds until he lost a lot of weight. He had a great delivery behind a microphone, and TB's own style is to basically try to imitate McAdams and his understated, well-enunciated style. Don't talk too much. Don't overdo it.

During his career, McAdams worked for the Eagles and Phillies and for maybe every Minor League baseball team in the general area. He did all kinds of college sports for all kinds of colleges, including Princeton football and women's soccer during that team's run to the 2004 NCAA Final Four.

Mostly, though, he is known for the being the voice of the Philadelphia Big 5, whose games he did from 1981 until his death in 2005. McAdams would start every game with his iconic call welcoming fans to the Palestra, "college basketball's most historic gym."

After McAdam's death, TB decided to take his place with Princeton football. Rich Kahn, another amiable man, filled McAdams' seat at the Palestra, where he has done a great job.

As for Princeton basketball, well, TigerBlog can't remember the exact year that he brought Bill Bromberg in, but it's been awhile. If you come to Princeton games at Jadwin Gym - or if you come to Princeton lacrosse games at Sherrerd Field - you know Bromberg's voice.

Like McAdams and Kahn, Bromberg is an extraordinarily nice person. He's also an extremely reliable one, something that is hugely important when it comes to having a voice of a building.

Unlike McAdams, Bromberg is not a professional PA announcer. In fact his career was as a schoolteacher in North Jersey, and he retired several years ago.

Every year TB jokes with Bromberg that he's fired, and every year Bromberg jokes with TB that he's quitting. In reality, Bromberg checks out the schedule for basketball and lacrosse, men's and women's, and then just shows up for pretty much every game - except for one or two a year between all four sports, such as tomorrow, when Princeton hosts North Carolina in men's lacrosse at 5:30 and Cornell in women's basketball at 7, meaning he can't do both.

Bromberg had been the PA announcer for the Trenton Thunder and at Seton Hall University before he came to Princeton. As a PA announcer, Bromberg is a bit more animated than TB, but it works for him.

TB likes to be a neutral voice of an event. Bromberg is more like the kindly uncle of Princeton basketball and lacrosse.

He also is better than any other PA announcer that TB has ever heard at improvising during the in-game contests and promotions, especially when they involve little kids. It's an innate ability and it's not easy to do, because there's a fine line between being funny and insulting the contestants. At the same time, you hardly want to dryly let the contest unfold without adding any flavor to it. In this regard, Bromberg is the best.

In all the time that Bromberg has been at Princeton, TB can't remember a day like he had last Saturday.

TB got to Class of 1952 Stadium around 10 last Saturday, and Bromberg showed up shortly thereafter. At some point, TB was on the field during the pregame before the men's lacrosse game against Johns Hopkins when he and Ryan Ambler mentioned that it was a pretty nice day, as opposed to the days before it, when it was beyond freezing. Ambler said it was way warmer, and then TB looked at his phone, which indicated that it was 27 degrees.

TigerBlog then settled into the press box to do stats for the men's game at noon and the women's game against Georgetown at 3. Bromberg? He was in his usual spot, on the field between the benches. From well before noon until the women's game ended, which was a little past 5:30.

Of course, the temperature did rise into the 30s, and the sun was out for awhile. By mid-afternoon it had clouded up, and it was hardly warm out anymore.

And there was Bromberg, outside for the entire time. And that was hardly his entire work day.

As the women's game began to head to overtime, TB began to wonder if Bromberg would get to Jadwin in time for the men's basketball game against Brown. He did get there - barely.

His day began around 10:30. It ended around 9. Three games. Two outside in winter weather, with 57 goals scored between them. One hurried trip to the gym and then his spot behind another microphone.

At some point during the basketball game, TB asked Bromberg how old he is, and Bromberg replied 68.

Sixty-eight? TB joked to Yariv Amir, Princeton's Assistant Athletic Director for Marketing, that they'd be needing a new PA man soon.

In reality, TB doubts that's the case.

In reality, TB knows that Bill Bromberg had a pretty long day this past Saturday - and yet TB also knows that Bromberg loved every second of it. And don't underestimate the toll that it takes to stand outside for seven hours or so on a winter day, and to talk the amount of time he did, at the age of 68.

As for TB, he's a harsh judge when it comes to PA announcers. Bromberg isn't TB's favorite - but he's close. Not that TB would ever tell him that.

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