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Bye Bob (Irving Retirement)


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Bob Irving is the soundtrack to my fandom of this team. 

I will share my oldest and dearest play call of his that I remember. I was a young boy out camping with my parents. The Bombers were playing the Edmonton Eskimos ....we didn't have much success against them...the year...1984. The Evil Empire had a dynasty going....we were trying to turn the tide. It was a regular season game....tied up late in the game....a real slobberknocker for CFL dominance at that point of the season and a precursor to a changing of the tide.

" Hank Ilesic is back to punt....ITS BLOCKED....this could be a touchdown....AND IT IS!!!"

With that one sentence, that one play, that one play call by Bob it was apparent that the monkey was off our back. The Evil Empire was vulnerable and the tide was changing. 

Am I being a little too nostalgic, or poetic, with my description of the events of that day....MAYBE...but I can tell you that one play, and the excitement in Bob's voice ratcheted me up from a casual fan to a Blue believer. That's my story and I think we all have one that we remember about Bob. That's what makes him so damn special.

Edited by GCn20
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2 minutes ago, GCn20 said:

Bob Irving is the soundtrack to my fandom of this team. 

I will share my oldest and dearest play call of his that I remember. I was a young boy out camping with my parents. The Bombers were playing the Edmonton Eskimos....we didn't have much success against them...the year...1984. The Evil Empire had a dynasty going....we were trying to turn the tide. It was a regular season game....tied up late in the game....a real slobberknocker for CFL dominance at that point of the season and a precursor to a changing of the tide.

" Hank Ilesic is back to punt....ITS BLOCKED....this could be a touchdown....AND IT IS!!!"

With that one sentence, that one play, that one play call by Bob it was apparent that the monkey was off our back. The Evil Empire was vulnerable and the tide was changing. 

Am I being a little too nostalgic, or poetic, with my description of the events of that day....MAYBE...but I can tell you that one play, and the excitement in Bob's voice ratcheted me up from a casual fan to a Blue believer. That's my story and I think we all have one that we remember about Bob. That's what makes him so damn special.

Never. Stories like this are what it's all about. Thanks for sharing! 

I have probably dozens of memories involving Bombers radiocasts, but I'll say this..... when I worked up in Dauphin from 2002-2006, we were part of the Blue Bombers Radio Network, and I was the in-house producer (basically just play local commercials when CJOB played Wpg commercials) for Dauphin's end of the coverage. It's a monkey job, but....I got to be a PART of the Blue Bombers Radio Network. Bob would almost always "say hello" to the people listening on our station during the broadcast, and I couldn't have been prouder to feel a part of the team. That's something that I'll carry with me forever.....

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My Bob memory is a little more personal. My father had taken me to Bomber games since 1981 at Canadinns stadium, and because of a few rowdy swearing fans in our early season ticket years there we took to wearing headphones to drown them out and listen to the broadcast. After a few games my dad noted “I don’t know why we never did this before, it totally changes how I watch the game. Bob’s call is so good and it makes me see things in a way I never saw live before.” One thing he always wondered is where the broadcast was coming from (we were east siders then) and he asked every other game or so, so I would point out the small radio booth across the field and he could kind of make it out, but I was never sure he figured it out  

So fast forward 25 years to the 2005 season. My dad’s 77th birthday came up on Labour Day and by that age it was hard to think of gifts for him, but we still shared our Bomber games together (and I was finally getting to the age where I could pay for our season tickets instead of him). I thought it would be a neat idea to give him a tour of the west side broadcast area, past media row and the TV and radio broadcast booths, so he could finally see the location of all the Bomber broadcasts he had been listening to. Carol Barrott of course made the arrangements, and said we might get to see Bob Irving in action before the game, but he would likely be too busy with the broadcast to say hi. So on Thanksgiving that year, which was the actual 75th anniversary celebration game, we met her at the club offices an hour and a half before game time and she took us up into the west side press area, past writer’s row and the TV broadcast booth and the visitor radio booth. We get to the Bomber booth and out comes Bob Irving (this is right up to the pre-game show time, mind you) and not only does he say hello and shakes our hands but engages my dad in a 5-10 minute conversation. I was struck by how tall he is in real life, and to my surprise most of their conversation was not about the specifics of football but about what my dad did for a living, how long he had been coming to the games, how flattered he was when my dad told him that listening to his broadcasts from the seats was a highlight for him, and also about Bob’s kids and his life as a broadcaster and how he missed a few big life events because his road broadcasts took him away from them. Apologized when he had to end the conversation because he had to get back to the broadcast. But he wished us well, thanked US for coming to visit, hoped we would enjoy the game and said it was going to be a special day because they were honouring the all-time 75th anniversary team and he was excited to be calling a memorable event. Thanked us again for always tuning in to the broadcast home or away. And then to back up his promise of something memorable, he called the game where Milt Stegall got 4 touchdowns on 4 passes that day. Total class act, real down to earth guy, and I like to think it was the best gift I could ever have given my dad. 

In the Billy Crystal movie “City Slickers” there’s a scene about your best and your worst day, outside of the usual “day your kids are born” life-changing events. I think of that day and seeing my dad light up talking with Bob Irving for his birthday celebration, and it is right up there with my best days. 

Edited by TrueBlue4ever
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1 hour ago, TrueBlue4ever said:

Carol Barrott of course made the arrangements, and said we might get to see Bob Irving in action before the game, but he would likely be too busy with the broadcast to say hi.

Cool story! First off - Carol is a class act and just generally a wonderful person to talk to. I've been a season ticket holder since 2011, but we always try to renew our tickets with her, if we can. My broadcasting memories are few and far between, though I will say one of my favorite Irving calls was the "Better late than never" lightning game on August 3, 2016. I was on vacation in Ontario at the time and out staying out a cabin, with the time change it was even later there! Game took forever to get going but the Bombers absolutely steamrolled the Ti-Cats. I just remember playing cards with my wife pretty late, then just laying down, listening to Irving's smooth voice as he called the game, all in a living room that looked like it came straight out of the 1970s. Dug up the old highlights if anyone is interested:

https://www.cfl.ca/games/2300/hamilton-tiger-cats-vs-winnipeg-blue-bombers/

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On 2021-11-25 at 7:58 PM, TrueBlue4ever said:

My Bob memory

Found the full game footage of that 2005 game for you on youtube if you are interested.

Also, you're a big stats guy so you probably know this... But that was Buck Peirce's first start as a CFL quarterback (at least according to the PBP guys in the vid)

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4 hours ago, Eternal optimist said:

Found the full game footage of that 2005 game for you on youtube if you are interested.

Also, you're a big stats guy so you probably know this... But that was Buck Peirce's first start as a CFL quarterback (at least according to the PBP guys in the vid)

I know this is a Bob Appreciation Thread (as it should be!) but I just wanted to say I really miss CBC CFL broadcasts. I got down a rabbit hole around 1am last night (this morning?) watching Bombers playoff recap videos. Steve Armitage is not a great PBP man, but damn those were fun broadcasts. 

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43 minutes ago, Noeller said:

I know this is a Bob Appreciation Thread (as it should be!) but I just wanted to say I really miss CBC CFL broadcasts. I got down a rabbit hole around 1am last night (this morning?) watching Bombers playoff recap videos. Steve Armitage is not a great PBP man, but damn those were fun broadcasts. 

Yep. On the whole, I would say TSN does a better job of it and the quality is much improved, but the old CBC casts just have that vintage feel to them.

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