My unique opportunity to right a wrong

Joe Fisher, voice of the Commodores
Joe Fisher, voice of the Commodores
Sometimes life offers cool second chances. One of them came for me this week.

In 1989, during my senior year at K-State (The Princeton of the Plains, you know), I spent spring break in Nashville, TN. A mentor had offered to introduce me to several people in the local sports broadcasting industry. One of them was a TV sportscaster named Joe Fisher.

Joe was awesome. He welcomed me to the station, showed me around, and visited with me in his office. He shared advice and patiently answered my questions. He even offered to critique my play-by-play, so I sent him a tape after I returned to school and he gave me a thorough evaluation. I still have his notes. (I was stunned that he didn’t think I was ready to be the voice of the Lakers). In fact, one tip that he offered is something I’ve shared with hundreds of basketball broadcasters since: be clear about which team has the ball.

Anyway, I sent Joe a handwritten note thanking him for his kindness. Then I made the mistake that has bothered me for the past 25 years.

I didn’t stay in touch.

I’ve spent the past 11 years of my life encouraging young sportscasters to stay in contact with people they meet, but I didn’t stay in touch with Joe Fisher. At 22, I didn’t understand why it was important and I didn’t want to be a bother to Joe. It was flawed thinking, but I didn’t know it then.

Joe has gone on to enjoy an outstanding career, first as a TV sportscaster and now entering his 17th season as the voice of Vanderbilt University athletics. This year, he was honored as Tennessee’s Sportscaster of the Year, which is why he was in attendance Monday night at the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association’s awards banquet. I’m on the NSSA board, so I was there, too.

At the banquet, I asked a mutual friend to introduce me to Joe. I started by telling Joe that I knew he wouldn’t remember me, and then proceeded to recount my story. When I was finished, he said, “I do remember you.” He told me that earlier that night, when I was introduced to the crowd to present the Jim Nantz Award, he recognized my name. We spent a few minutes visiting, but it was late and I didn’t want to keep him.

As we said goodbye, I promised to stay in touch. I have already sent him an email.