Lamey Named to Indiana Swriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame
INDIANAPOLIS - He never thought about this, never dared to dream it.
Shoot, when he first arrived in Indianapolis in 1974 – before he was Hockey Bob, before he was the play-by-play voice of the Indiana Pacers, and a decade before anyone associated Indianapolis with the National Football League – Bob Lamey had simple aspirations.
"I came here hoping to get two years in," Lamey said with a laugh this week.
He got his two years. Then he got 32 more.
And along the way, he became not only the Voice of the Colts – a position he has held in all but three years of the team's existence and one he still holds – he became one of the most recognizable voices and faces in Indianapolis.
On Saturday, after nearly 50 years in broadcasting – 34 of which have been in Indianapolis – Lamey will enter the Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame, the state's highest honor for his profession, albeit one Lamey said, "I never thought about."
"My first remark on Saturday will be somebody finally found the bottom of the barrel, because that's where my name must have been," Lamey said with a smile.
Lamey, who is entering his 22nd season as the Voice of the Colts, was the team's play-by-play voice from 1984 – the first season in Indianapolis – through 1991 and again since 1995.
He arrived in Indianapolis as the play-by-play voice of the Indianapolis Racers hockey team from 1974-1977, and joined the Pacers from 1977-84. He worked 23 years with WIBC Radio in Indianapolis before joining the Colts on a full-time basis.
That's a lot of hats, or in the vernacular of the Baseball Hall of Fame, a lot of "caps."
In baseball, there sometimes is debate about which cap a player will wear on his Hall of Fame plaque.
Lamey said there should be no doubt about his choice.
"Colts," he said, adding that the time with the franchise – a span that since 1999 has included eight playoff appearances, six division titles and a Super Bowl championship – has been the highlight of a five-decade career.
"That's a major understatement," Lamey said. "I've had more fun, more thrills and more disappointment because we've been good. When you lose when you're not supposed to, that's disappointment, but still . . yeah . . . oh, yeah."
Lamey, a lifelong, passionate New York Yankees fan, said he wouldn't trade the Colts' job for any other in sports "for a lot of reasons."
"(Colts Owner and Chief Executive Officer) Jim Irsay, (Head Coach) Tony Dungy, (President) Bill Polian, the players . . . the people in this building . . ." he said. "For me, at my age and what I do for a living, I could not have found a better place to be. You could search all day long, I can't find one."
He said the time also has provided some his most memorable calls, including:
• The Colts' 29-17 victory over the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI. "Counting down the Super Bowl – I will not say I have lived my entire life to get a ring, but that is the pinnacle of what I do," he said. "Those last few seconds, I was thinking about 1-15, 3-13 . . . One of the bigger thrills is to see this town change from a basketball town to a football town. The Bill Polians, the Jim Irsays, the Peyton Mannings and all of the players who have been through here did that. At first, it was a social thing to do. Now, you have to be here. This is the place to be on game day."
• Colts cornerback Marlin Jackson's interception that clinched the AFC Championship Game following the 2006 season, a play that sent the Colts to Super Bowl XLI. "I will forever owe that guy so much," Lamey said. "With that interception, he allowed me to get to a position in my life where very few people have ever been in my profession. If he drops the ball or (New England quarterback Tom) Brady throws a touchdown . . . you know. When I say Super Bowl, I'm talking about everything that led up to it. Beating the Patriots, winning the Super Bowl . . . the biggest moment was Marlin; the biggest thrill is when you get there and when you win the whole thing. Had he intercepted it and we lost to Chicago, maybe it would be a little different, but because you won it, that's the overall No. 1." The Colts in that game overcame a 21-3 deficit to win, 38-34. "One of the big, big wins in franchise history was the Patriots game in the playoffs, because a lot of bad memories were erased in one unbelievable night," Lamey said. "That's probably the best comeback, the best turnaround I've ever seen."
• Colts quarterback Peyton Manning's record-breaking 49th touchdown pass of the 2004 season. "He's done so many things when you look at what he has accomplished," Lamey said of Manning. "It was the record that would never be broken, then it was broken and now it's been broken again. That was a huge moment."
• The final play of the AFC Championship Game following the 1995 season, a 20-16 Colts loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Colts lost when a last-play Hail Mary pass to wide receiver Aaron Bailey from quarterback Jim Harbaugh fell incomplete. "One of the officials started up with his arms because he thought Bailey had caught it," Lamey said. "After that game, we came back into town and I've never seen a bunch of players as down as that group was. They'd given everything and lost. We got back to Indy and landed and there were 10,000 people at the airport. I remember something (then-offensive tackle) Will Wolford said. I don't think he was saying it to me, but I was there. Walking from the gate to the outside of the terminal, he turned and said to someone, 'I thought we lost.' That was a moment you knew this was going to be a good football town."
• The Colts' first home playoff game in Indianapolis, a 19-16 loss to the Tennessee Titans in an AFC Divisional Playoff game following the 1999 season. "Again, we didn't win, but having a game here . . ." Lamey said.
Two and a half decades before, Lamey arrived in Indianapolis. He had spent 10 years in Charlotte, N.C., broadcasting the Carolina Cougars of the American Basketball Association. The Cougars folded, and Lamey said either longtime Indianapolis broadcaster Jerry Baker or Joe McConnell – then the Voice of the Pacers and now the play-by-play announcer for Purdue University – called and said he should apply for the play-by-play job of the Indiana Racers of the World Hockey Association.
He got the job – and soon thereafter a nickname.
Then-WIBC host Chuck Riley held a contest to decide a nickname for the Racers' energetic, play-by-play guy.
Soon thereafter a female caller suggested, "Hockey Bob."
"For whatever reason it worked," Lamey said. "Some lady called the name in and it just stuck. I have no idea why."
Recently, while vacationing in Florida, a man approached him, "Aren't you?"
The man, Lamey said, recognized him as "Hockey Bob."
After three seasons with the Racers, the general manager and WIBC called Lamey and said, "We want you to do the Pacers," which he did for eight seasons. "Being in the NBA at that point was a big deal in my career," he said. "Bobby ("Slick") Leonard was a big part of it, because he was the general manager and the coach and he wanted me. I don't know why, but he wanted me to do the games. Slick was really good for me at that point in my career."
Since 1984, Lamey has been the Voice of the Colts except for three seasons – 1992-1994 – when WIBC lost the Colts contract. McConnell spent those three seasons as the team's play-by-play announcer.
"It was the only time I ever signed a contract," Lamey said. "(Colts Senior Executive Vice President) Pete Ward called in 1991 and said, 'We want you over here.' I had a judge call me and say, 'You can break this contract.' I said, 'No, my dad told me you sign something you live up to it.'''
Three years later, Lamey returned as Voice of the Colts,