Jim Weber honored by IL HOF inductionWritten by Danielle Stanton | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Longtime Toledo Mud Hens broadcaster Jim Weber said being inducted this year into the International League Hall of Fame is humbling.
“Any time you get inducted into any hall of fame you’re either retired or dead,” said Weber during a phone interview from Florida. “I’m neither of those.”
Weber is certainly alive and shows no sign of slowing down. He’s headed into his 40th season with the Mud Hens.
“It takes seven years to get 1,000 games in, so I tell everybody I’m going to take [future games] 1,000 at a time,” Weber joked. “There’s no goal. Fifty years would be nice. And it’s a job that you don’t mind going to every day.”
Weber called his 5,000th consecutive game in his 39th season last year, the longest tenure of any announcer in the International League (IL).
Team historian John Husman found that no other announcer could match Weber’s record. The closest he could find were the Detroit Tigers’ Ernie Harwell, who missed two games between 1960 and 2002, the Chicago Cubs’ Harry Caray, who called more than 6,000 consecutive games between 1945 and 1987 but for four different teams, and the Toronto Blue Jays’ Tom Cheek, who had 4,306 consecutive games from 1977-2004.
“It is very likely that Jim Weber has done more consecutive scheduled broadcasts, for the same team, than anyone else ever has, major or minor league,” Husman said in a news release. “Comparisons are difficult, especially for the minor leagues, but it appears that Jim Weber’s streak is unmatched.”
Just because he has never missed a game doesn’t mean he was never sick, Weber said.
“I had sick games when I could barely make it through,” he said. “I’d get a throat infection and couldn’t talk too well and muscle it out. I did a doubleheader in Denver just above a whisper.”
Weber was raised in South Toledo and attended Bowsher High School. He dabbled in radio in 1969 and then started helping a friend announce high school football and basketball games. By the mid-1970s, he helped arrange radio agreements for the Mud Hens and in 1975 became the team’s play-by-play announcer.
Weber has been a constant with the franchise. Since 1975, 18 managers and more than 1,000 players have passed through the organization.
In addition to his radio duties, Weber broadcasts on TV and has been the team’s traveling secretary since 1984. He has also covered games for Bowling Green State University.
“The thing that makes Jim so amazing as a broadcaster is his passion for the game,” said Mud Hens broadcaster Matt Melzak in an email. “You can tell it in his voice how much he cares for the sport, its players and fans. It comes through each and every broadcast.
“One great thing that I have learned from Jim is the timing in a broadcast. He has such a great feel of how to work in a story to a broadcast. Whether it is through something historical about the team, its players, the ballpark or the city, he is able to weave that into the game without losing what is going on in the game itself.”
Weber is the first announcer to be inducted into the IL Hall of Fame. Joining him this year are infielder/outfielder Jeff Manto and manager Dave Miley.
Weber considers the Mud Hens’ back-to-back Governors’ Cup championships in 2005 and 2006 his career highlight.
“I never thought I’d see one, but I saw two in a row,” Weber said. “It was in my 31st year. It took that long before we won a championship. Lots of those guys are in the major leagues now. That was the highlight. Now I have two rings to show for it.”
Weber said he’s most proud of the fact that he hasn’t missed a game in his career and that he’s a local guy in a franchise that sees a lot of employees come from outside of Toledo.
“I think if you looked at all of our organization, there’s not a lot of people from our area,” Weber said. “They have careers, they move on, they come from other places. There’s not a lot of natives in there — there are some but a lot of them are from somewhere else.”
He’s also seen two generations of employees grow up — the league president, Randy Mobley, was an intern for Columbus when Weber was broadcasting years ago. If he sticks around a few more years, he’ll see a third generation, he said.
Weber has lived in Perrysburg for the past eight years. He has two daughters and two grandchildren.
The Mud Hens will honor Weber with a bronze statue at a home game May 29. He said he doesn’t necessarily like the attention and can’t wait for the ceremony to be finished so he can focus on his announcing.
“After this year, things will quiet down and get back to normal,” Weber said.
Tags: Bowling Green State University, Bowsher High School, Chicago Cubs’ Harry Caray, Florida, International League Hall of Fame, Mud Hens broadcaster Matt Melzak, Mud Hens’ back-to-back Governors’ Cup championships, nfielder/outfielder Jeff Manto and manager Dave Miley, Perrysburg, Randy Mobley, Team historian John Husman, Toledo Mud Hens, Toledo Mud Hens broadcaster Jim Weber s, Toronto Blue Jays’ Tom Cheek