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Bob Barry's mistakes may have increased with his age, but he's never lost his passion

Calling a game on the radio isn't as easy as it sounds, Oklahoman columnist Jenni Carlson writes. And while Bob Barry has made his fair share of mistakes, his love for the game and connection with fans has more than made up for it.
by Jenni Carlson Modified: August 31, 2010 at 7:00 pm •  Published: August 31, 2010

Bob Davis chuckled at bit when he heard about Bob Barry Sr.'s retirement.

"That rascal," he said. "That'll make me the oldest guy left in the league."

Indeed, the radio play-by-play man for football and basketball games at Kansas will become the senior statesman in Big 12 booths. That's because the 79-year-old Barry is calling it quits after this season.

This is the end of an era.

Some say it's long overdue.

Over the past few years, Barry has become as well-known for "Check that" as for "25... 20... 15... 10... 5... Touchdown, Oklahoma!" His passion has never waned. His enthusiasm has never faded.

His accuracy is another story.

Radio is the most unforgiving medium. It demands instantaneous perfection. Unlike television, there is no visual to fill in the blanks. Unlike newspapers and Internet, there is no editing process.

That remains the same no matter how long someone does radio play-by-play.

"The challenge is still there," said Davis, who has done play-by-play for more than 40 years.

He chuckled.

"As you get a little older," he said, "the field gets a little farther away and the players are a little smaller."

Seeing numbers on jerseys is tougher. Spying names on backs is darn near impossible. Sometimes the ball even goes missing every now and again. We've all been there.

Few of us, though, have had that I-have-no-idea-what-just-happened feeling on live radio.

Most of us age privately. We know our shortcomings, what isn't as perfect as it used to be. We see our flaws, what isn't as perky as it once was. Then, we figure out ways to cover up as much of it as we can.

We wear glasses. We get Botox. We have some things tucked and other things enhanced. We take medicine. We buy Spanx.

(Don't know what those are? Bet your wife has a pair or two in her underwear drawer.)

Getting old, legendary actress Bette Davis once said, is not for sissies. It's hard work, and most of us try to hide it from the world.

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