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Chase gets "Key to Fort" award

Bob Chase, 87, the Komets' longtime broadcaster, is given the "Key to the Fort" award by Mayor Tom Henry.

Justin A. Cohn/The Journal Gazette
Komets broadcaster Bob Chase on Thursday holds the Key to the Fort presented to him by Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry.

Henry awards Bob Chase a Key to the Fort

Bob Chase, the Komets' longtime broadcaster, knew he would be receiving an honor from Mayor Tom Henry.

But he was in the dark as to what would be given to him Thursday morning.

The previous night, he had a dream about a beloved maple tree that is dying in his yard, and in the dream city employees arrived to install the famed statue of General "Mad" Anthony Wayne in its place.

As it turns out, Chase's dream was sort of close.

He was presented the "Key to the Fort" at the Mayor's office. It is a hand-forged replica of the iron key that was at the fort in the days of Anthony Wayne, circa 1790.

The original key is in the History Center. It was donated there by the family of Civil War-era Mayor Franklin Randall.

Chase, 87, who will begin his 61st season of Komets hockey later this year, is just the third person to receive the key since Henry took office in 2008. The others were former City Council member Charles Redd and Jane Avery of Community Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Indiana.

"Nobody hit it on the head what it was (going to be)," Chase said of the award. "For a local honor, and I've had a lot of great honors, this is unreal. This goes right up on the mantle, and I'm just so happy and pleased."

Chase has called nine playoff championships, 12 regular-season championships and more than 4,500 Komets games, to say nothing of the countless other sports and news events he's been a part of with WOWO.

"It is my privilege to recognize Bob Chase for all that he has done for our great city," Henry said. "Bob's professionalism, character, humility and his love for his family and the Komets are all attributes that make him a unique and special man in our community."

Last year, Chase won the Lester Patrick Award for his contributions to hockey in the USA; it's perhaps the biggest honor that can be bestowed upon a hockey broadcaster.

"I'm glad I was able to be here to do this," said Chase, surrounded by many friends, former Komets players and co-workers, and, of course, his wife, Murph. "Sometimes you don't live long enough to accomplish a lot of things. Whether I've accomplished them through or skill or endurance, I don't know, but I just appreciate this."

During the ceremony, Chase reminisced about several events from his career, including how he would cover college football games out of state but have to make sure he could get back on a plane in time to cover the Komets at night. He'd rip a $20 bill in half and give it to a cab driver, then promise the other half as gratuity if he was there after the game to get him to the airport. Other people couldn't figure out why the cabbies always waited for Chase and wouldn't drive them.

And during one Komets game, Chase got so excited he bit his tongue and was bleeding profusely in the press box, forcing him to hand over the microphone to Don Chevillet, who hadn't done play-by-play before. It's one of the very few times someone other than Chase has called any Komets action for WOWO or WKJG.

With all he's experienced, Chase could have kept the attendees enthralled all day.

"I feel very privileged to have gone through the radio process in the golden days of radio, bar none," he said, fighting back tears.

jcohn@jg.net

Justin A. Cohn, pro sports coordinator for The Journal Gazette, has been covering the Fort Wayne Komets since 1997. His reporting includes game stories from home and away, features about the players and personalities associated with the Komets, plus coverage of issues affecting hockey at all levels. A native of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Cohn graduated from Emory University in Atlanta. He can be reached at 260-461-8429 or by email at jcohn@jg.net.

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