Bob Barry Sr. calls the action - and sometimes takes the heat

By John Helsley Published: August 24, 2008


/> Joining Barry on the air are color man Merv Johnson and sideline reporter Trent Smith.

All five men are wired into Barry's ear.

"It's a team effort,” Barry said.

Progress is requiring more and more effort.

More and more schools realize the opportunity to sell the prime location previously reserved for the media to donors for big money. That's pushing the media upward or outward.

At the Fiesta Bowl, the play-by-play booth is beyond one corner of the end zone, leading Barry to watch action occurring at the other end of the field on one of the stadium big screens.

"Press boxes are getting higher and higher and you're so far away,” Barry said. "Some guy's sitting at home watching television on a 65-inch HDTV and the camera is zooming right in and you're eight miles high.

"You make a missed call and that guy sits there saying, ‘Can't he see that ball?'”

All play-by-play announcers have their critics.

Barry's no different, with some saying his on-air fumbles are increasing along with his age.

Such talk irks Barry's son, television sportscaster and talk radio host Bob Jr.

"Anytime anyone says anything bad about your dad or your mother or your wife or your kids, you bow up,” said Barry Jr. "My issue is, I'm getting older now myself, I'm in my 50s, there are a lot of young people today who are cruel with people who get into their 60s or 70s.

"They just think that's it, they don't have any more worth on this planet. Better to understand the wisdom and value that they have.

"As long as he's fired up about it and it gets him out of the bed in the morning and he wants to go do it, there's a lot of value in what he does. So I find myself bristling about what is a clear case of age discrimination, people saying, ‘Oh, he needs to quit just because he's old.' Well, no he doesn't.”



How I do what I do
Bob Barry Sr. explains what it's really like when you're working the dirty job of being a play-by-play man.

"My dad told me, ‘You can tell how much you like the job you're doing by how much you like doing the drudgery of that job.' Because every job has drudgery.

"The drudgery part of my job is the spotter boards and preparation. I make a card out for every player, every player at every position on a team. It takes about eight hours to get ready for a football game for me.

"Some people listen to me and don't like me. You're going to have that in this business of being in the public.

"I had a guy write to me the other day and said, ‘I think you ought to go out to pasture.'

"You're going to have this. People are going to like you and not like you. You don't like to get complaints and criticism.”

"What I do honestly is listen to what they say or write and try to analyze it. Sometimes, the criticism is warranted...

"In the (John) Blake era, when the team was so bad. When you're winning, your broadcasts sound a lot better than when you're losing.

"You have to keep your enthusiasm. You can't just point out all the negatives. And yet, you don't want to be too much of a homer.

"But announcing a team that's losing regularly is really hard to do. Because people are PO'd their team is losing and it's just a difficult thing.”

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