Retiring the Sweater: Cavs to Hold Joe Tait Appreciation Night

On a night when MVP hopeful Derrick Rose comes to town with the Eastern Conference-leading Chicago Bulls, Quicken Loans Arena will have a sold out crowd on hand to celebrate a man who will not even step foot on the court.  Well, at least during the course of the game. 

Joining the greats like Mark Price and Brad Daugherty, the “Voice of the Cavaliers” Joe Tait will have his name hoisted in to the rafters of The Q.  Before Friday night’s tip-off, a special banner branding Tait’s name will commemorate his 39 years with the Wine and Gold.  In what will be his second-last broadcast before the great Tait heads into retirement, the Q-Tube will feature several video vignettes which highlight Tait’s illustrious career while featuring well wishes from friends, colleagues and fans will run throughout the evening.

As not to overlap with fan/media appreciation night on April 13, the night where Tait’s documentary “Have a Goodnight, Everybody” will be aired, the Cavaliers opted to celebrate the legendary broadcaster on his very own evening. No word on if the banner will feature Tait’s signature Cosby-esque stripes.

After meeting Bill Fitch in the late 1960s, Tait was brought on board just eight games into their first season in existance; he has been the one constant ever since.  Broadcasting over 3,300 Cavalier games, Tait – already enshrined in the Hall of Fame and the hearts of all of Cleveland – will forever be a part of Cavaliers basketball long after he calls it a career. 

Unfortunately, in what was supposed to be his six-month ride into the sunset, Tait was hospitalized and subsequently forced to undergo open heart surgery early in the season.  Missing the majority of the last five months, Tait took to the broadcast booth on March 27.  Since his return that night, the Cavaliers – owners of the second-worst record in the NBA – have played .500 basketball winning three of their last six contests.

Tait will undoubtedly be missed.

(WFNY Bonus: Here’s some audio to get you through the morning.  If you’re not going to miss every second of this, go root for Buffalo.)

And finally, the two-part Pièce de Résistance – the Miracle at Richfield:

  • mgbode

    just adding this to any post on Tait in case the good people here at WFNY can suggest this to anyone of importance:

    Joe Tait needs to be the Cavs representative at the lottery this year. Thanks :)

  • Stinkfist

    I really hope they raise an enormous sweater

  • Chris M

    I honestly don’t know how anyone could have completely dry eyes after listening to those pieces. It makes me sad when I think about Tait leaving. It feels like I’m losing a piece of my childhood.

    Between Tait and Hamilton, I don’t know if I’ll ever hear two better radio guys in my life.

  • Garry Owen

    @ Chris:

    I have to add Herb Score to that list. We’ve had some great radio voices (balanced out nicely by Jim “Excited by the Other Team” Donovan).

  • Reggie Ruckus

    Tait is the greatest broadcaster in Cleveland sports history. Hammy and Herb Score are also among the greats but if we’re talking 2nd place it’s gotta be Nev Chandler. You kids who missed the Nev era missed something special.

    It’s a shame that health problems shortened Joe’s last season but every broadcaster wants to leave before they wear out their welcome. Herb did it…heck, Johnny Carson did it…What the great ones never realize is that we never get sick of them being there. I still miss Herb on Indians games (“two hopper to Fermin…fields it on one bounce!”) but Hammy has carried on beautifully. It just won’t be a Cavs game without Joe Tait.

  • Brian

    I still have a memorex tape that I recorded the last few innings of Herb Score doing game 7 the 97 World Series…

    It’s probably one of the most depressing/disappointing things that I own….

  • Garry Owen

    For some reason, the one Herb Score phrase that will always stay with me is “The pitch: a ball too low.”

  • Roosevelt

    God bless Joe. What a privilege to hear a guy who was not only a gifted announcer with a wicked personality and a totally believable craving for DiGiornio Pizza, but was too incorrigible to care about the politics of speaking frankly about the home team. I hope he has many happy years left to enjoy retirement.

  • Reggie Ruckus

    Living outside of Cleveland I was unable to hear Herb’s last game in the 1997 World Series. I intend to enjoy every minute of Joe’s last broadcast. I was fortunate enough to meet him a couple times and he is an incredibly nice man. I too wish him a long, healthy and happy retirement.

  • mike

    i disagree, reggie ruckus (in a good way). any talk about great cleveland voices HAS to start with Nev Chandler AND Joe Tait. i was lucky enough to experience the greatness that was Nev, and in my eyes Nev:Browns :: Tait:Cavs. (Tom hamilton is pretty darn good too though.)

  • Fred Allison

    I would rather have 100 Joe Traits than 1 LeFraud. Class over trash.

  • JNeids

    @8 – DiGiorno and Folgers really should have a giveaway with special Joe Tait containers. Now that would be a collectible!

    I’m surprised no link to the Lebron Cavs-Magic Game 2 winner. I actually used that as a ringtone for a while…gave me chills everytime I heard it.

  • dennis KING


  • Scott

    “I’m surprised no link to the Lebron Cavs-Magic Game 2 winner”

    I had the exact same ringtone, but it was on an old phone and no longer have the file. Also, I was trying to focus more on non-LeBron related plays.

  • Ezzie

    I hope they make the video available online for people afterward, especially those of us who live outside of Cleveland/are Sabbath observers! :)

    If you can find a longer file that showcases not just highlights but how well he described a game that would be awesome. I hope they have Gordon Gund talk about how much he felt he could “see” listening to Tait, I always thought that was moving.

  • RazorZips

    These audio clips are great, but he did announce some bad basketball too. My favorite still from the dark days in the 90’s “Cripe! it looks like church league out there folks”.
    Thanks for the memories Joe!

  • Dave

    I am 25 years old. I barely remember the couple games I attended at The Coliseum at Richfield. But my Dad has highlights from that game series on a cassette tape and I have heard the Miracle at Richfield many times. These two calls by Joe Tait give me goose bumps every single time.

  • Right Side

    Those clips were great. I was hoping for a little “Hot Rod, WHAM with a right hand”, but those will do.

    Cleveland by far has the best play by play guys in sports. (Jim D. excluded)

  • Harv 21

    How about Worst Cleveland Announcing Combos ever:

    1) Herb Score and Paul Olden: sloppy no-prep Old School v. punctilious, stat-heavy, soulless New School. They sounded like they hated each other.

    2) Joe Tait and Bruce Drennan (doing televised Indians games): maybe unfair to Joe, because Drennan’s wretched excess would have dragged Vin Scully down. Drennan was Austin Carr meets Ted Knight, shouted incoherent musings from a humorless bloated ego. But Tait had an over-excitable style himself back then and never curbed Drennan. Bad, bad listening.

  • JM

    Tom Hamilton calling yesterday’s game was amazing. Joe Tait calling all the great Cavs game was legendary.

  • Robert E Carter, Jr.

    I think I’m a little bit biased but the Gibber, & Jimmy Dudley should be right next to Joe. My wife and I got so excited during his of the Miracle that our landlord evicted us for being to noisy!

  • M D

    Did Joe Tait do talk radio back in the mid 70’s in Cleveland?
    Herb Score, what a play by play man. The teams were mostly terrible but we had one of the greats.

  • christopher

    One of my earliest childhood memories is that of sitting with my dad in his old volkswagen beetle listening to Joe call Cavs games with a magical picture painting in my head.

    From “the line to the lane”….thank you Joe for being a true cleveland icon.

  • mark

    Great catch R.E., I was thinking the same thing while reading the comments. These young-uns don’t know of Gib Shanley or Jimmy Dudley. Along with Joe, these 2 belong on the Mt. Rushmore of Cleveland play-by-play guys.