July 24, 2014

Without Joe Tait, I May Not Be a Cavs Fan Today

I was 4 years old during the ‘Miracle of Richfield’ season. My fan-dom certainly did not begin there. In fact, it wasn’t until I was in high school did myself, or my dad for that matter, really begin to follow the NBA at all.

I do remember listening to the radio down in the basement when I was a kid. We had a fabulous basement for a little boy. It was big and open, and had a cement floor. I was allowed to ride my bike down there, bounce the basketball or just play around with the exercise equipment. Often I would just watch my dad work at his workshop. (For the life of me I have no recollection of him actually finishing a project, but that’s another story.)

As I rode my bike or played whatever imaginary game my mind conceived of I would sometimes listen to Tait call the Cavs games. I remember hearing the names of World B. Free, Roy Hinson, Mel Turpin and John Bagley. It wasn’t until Price, Daugherty, Nance and Hot Rod though that I became a fan of the Cavs.

At age 14 I got my first job. We’ll be nice and leave out the names of the guilty so as not to cause any child labor inquiries. I worked evenings and couldn’t watch the Cavs from the kitchen of the restaurant. I was allowed to bring in a radio however, and listen to the Cavs while I did the dishes or prepped food for the following day.

And that is where my affection for the Cavaliers, and Joe Tait began.

Those years were awesome. Price pulling up for three point shots in transition. Nance and Williams blocking shots and stuffing the rim- with the right hand of course. Sure I made it to some games at the Coliseum, but for the majority of the season I was listening on the little radio in that kitchen.

What I loved about Tait was that no matter when you tuned into the game, it wasn’t long before you knew the important things. He told you the score. He told you who was in foul trouble. He told you who was hot and who was not hitting shots. All you had to do was listen. Joe took care of the rest.

He never had to say anything about the officiating either. You could tell from his call if the foul was legit or not. His signature phrases we all know and love, but maybe my favorite Tait calls were when he was frustrated with the officials and would say “a whistle and WHAT?” Then he would tell you “They’re going to call a travel on Terrell Brandon”, or “according to the official Daugherty didn’t have his feet set long enough.” I felt like we were both rooting for the Cavs, but he just happened to be there to tell me what was going on.

Those years listening to the Cavs at work with Tait, and to the Indians with Score and Hamilton I never really knew how great we had it here in Cleveland. Add in Nev Chandler, Jim Mueller and Casey Coleman for the Browns and we’ve been very fortunate here.

For 35 years it has been about the action on the court for Joe Tait and Cleveland. Tonight it is about Joe. The game is a footnote really. Thanks friend for always telling me the score.

  • REEPJP

    When I was younger I always had a hard time falling asleep at night…because of this I would always turn on the radio in my room in the basement to the only station it could pick up…that station happened to be WQKT in Wooster, and they carried all of the Cavs and Tribe games. Joe Tait (and Hammy) were the authors of my bedtime stories for the majority of my childhood, and were both a huge reason I am a Cleveland sports fan today. I’ve got the DVR scheduled and am looking forward to watching the special on Joe after the game tonight.

  • mgbode

    I would have been a Cavs fan without Joe Tait.

    However, I wouldn’t have fallen asleep on top of my alarm clock radio nearly every night of a west coast swing with the volume low enough my parents couldn’t hear it but just loud enough that I could make out Tait’s voice.

  • Reggie Ruckus

    My kids look at me like I’m crazy that having every game on TV is a recent development. Nothing against Mike Snyder or Jim Chones or whoever ultimately fills his seat, no one can ever replace Joe Tait. Beyond his contributions to the Cavs (too many to list and most have all been said already) the man was a broadcaster. We’ll never hear the likes of him on the airwaves again. The new generation of play by play guys all sound like they are auditioning for Sportscenter or worse shills for todays NBA. Having him retire is like having Larry Nance soaring over me and slamming it down with Tait delivering one of his signature lines. “Wham with the right hand!” Have a great last night Joe Tait.

  • Shamrock

    I remember those WB Free, Hinson, Burpin Turpin, Bagley and don’t forget Ben Paquette neither. Time rolls on no matter what leaving us with just memories.

    @Reggie Ruckus Amen on the play by play guys. Start right here with McLoud, ugh!

  • Reggie Ruckus

    @ Shamrock, right on brother…I do not like Mcloud at all. He actually makes me miss Michael Reghi. The Cavs & FSN should go audio free tonight and make everyone tune into the radio broadcast instead.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ Rick

    FSN is using the radio feed for the second half of tonight’s game for those who might not have heard.

  • Reggie Ruckus

    Sweet Rick…I hadn’t heard that. Thanks for letting us know. Great write-up on Joe too.

  • jimkanicki

    i always thought of tait as the indians voice first. i guess he stopped baseball right around when i left for college.

    i started out life as a reds fan in columbus listening to al michaels and then marty brennaman with joe nuxhall on WLW. when we moved to cleveland and i switched allegiance to the tribe, it was herb score and joe tait on WWWE. i thought then that tait was MUCH better than brennaman. (i was actually surprised at the acclaim for brennaman when he retired. maybe he got better?) i still remember as the best baseball radio guy i’ve heard. baseball is a lot trickier to manage over the radio. moreso when your team sucks and there’s 3000 people in a 80,000 capacity stadium.

    i always enjoyed tait’s radio broadcasts. but i most remember that he would start every broadcast with ‘it’s a beautiful day/night for baseball.’ regardless of the weather. always thought that was the perfect way to set the stage for a baseball game.

  • jimkanicki

    ^^oops. THOM Brennaman. I went to high school with Marty.

  • Shamrock

    @Reggie Compared to McLeod I loved Reghi but I’ll have to tune in to the second half. That’s cool.

  • http://www.spacebooger.com Fred

    Someone really needs to tape tonight’s broadcast and post it online for all of us fans to have.

  • Harv 21

    Will miss Tait’s honest and crusty personality visiting the room or car. Also will miss the way he quickly identifies where the ball, rather than describing the reaction first (pet peeve).

    Think the technical skill level of play by play guys has increased over the decades, as guys like Al Michaels, Costas, Albert and of course Scully have really raised the bar since back when telecasts had a more local nuance. But what has almost disappeared is the guy who doesn’t sound like a clone. Jon Miller has his own style but I can’t think of many others. And would a guy who’s pudgy and homely and sounds like Tait get hired today? Doubt it, in this era of Plastic Man.

  • http://www.60bpm.com/ Robbie

    I’ll be listening to the Cavaliers and keeping track of the Indians on MLB.com at work tonight.

  • GhostToMost

    Pardon my ignorance, but why is there a Lake Erie Monsters logo on that Joe Tait bobblehead? Has he ever called games for the Monsters?

    I havent lived in the Cleveland area for several years now, so I honestly dont know.

  • Ben

    Monsters honored him on Cavs night…never called games for Monsters.

    Minor league hockey is fun and yes that bobblehead is on my desk right now.

  • BuckeyeDawg

    My brother and I spent many nights falling asleep to the voice of Joe Tait in our bedroom during the early 90′s Price/Nance/Daugherty days.

    Thanks for the memories, Joe. Enjoy your retirement. Won’t be the same without you.

  • cninja

    I used to live in North Carolina when I went to school down there and my best memory there is of listening to Joe Tait call a game from 500 miles away.

    I was in Elon, NC and just happened to be screwing around with my stereo and I flipped to AM and it was tuned to 1100 and much to my surprise I hear Joe in the middle of a broadcast.

    I was so shocked and happy being in NC and picking up the WTAM signal clear as day that I sat there and listened to the rest of the game for an hour or so.

    I don’t know how exactly, just guesses, but I was never able to pick up the signal again, but it was more than great the one time I did.

  • JM

    Rick, I know what you mean about Joe filling you in. I had a night job when the Cavs were becoming contenders in the early 2000s. Joe helped out when I needed to know what was going on. I especially remember him getting a little excited when the Cavs went deep in the playoffs.

  • GhostToMost

    @17

    I had a similar experience. I was moving to Virginia on the night the Cavs played the Pistons in game 6 of the 2006 playoffs. Driving on I-95 South, I started clicking through the radio hoping to find an ESPN radio broadcast of the game somewhere. To my shock and amazement I found WTAM and Joe Tait. Would have been an even more memorable experience if the Cavs had pulled off the win that night.

  • Ben in VA

    Does anyone know if the “Good Night Everybody” special that Fox Sports did has been posted online for fans that don’t live in OH?