When Mike Emrick was 11 years old, he saw his first hockey game at Memorial Coliseum.
A path which began that night in 1957 has taken the LaFontaine native to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
On Monday, he won the Foster Hewitt Award, which recognizes people from the radio and television industries who have made outstanding contributions to hockey, and it includes enshrinement in the Hall.
Also inducted were players Glenn Anderson and Igor Larionov, former Western Canada Hockey League president Ed Chynoweth, referee Ray Scapinello, and longtime Canadian Press reporter Neil Stevens.
Emrick, who has called NHL games for 28 years, serves as the lead play-by-play announcer for national broadcasts on Versus and NBC. But some of his success can be credited to longtime Fort Wayne Komets broadcaster Bob Chase.
When Emrick was a student at Manchester College, he’d go to Komets games and record play-by-play of his own. He would review the tapes with Chase to see what needed work.
“Bob was the only guy I could hear growing up and I was lucky,” Emrick once said. “He has great enthusiasm for the sport and he uses good English. … You’d have to say his influence on me was very strong.”
Emrick earned a bachelor’s degree in speech from Manchester, a master’s degree in Radio/TV from Miami (Ohio) and a Ph.D. from Bowling Green in Radio/TV/Film.
By landing a job as a broadaster with the International Hockey League’s Port Huron Flags in 1973, his path to the NHL was set.