Bob Chase’s influence on hockey and broadcasting transcended both his sport and his city. His sportscasting ability was acknowledged by his peers, and the long reach of his radio station, WOWO-AM, made his voice familiar to fans far and wide. But it was his choice to remain here and tell the Komets’ story through the decades that gradually turned him from a talented broadcaster into a living legend.
Chase died Thursday at 90, having run "Radio Rinkside" for 63 of the Komets’ 65 seasons. Only Vin Scully, who retired in October after 67 seasons as the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers, had a longer tenure in American sportscasting.
As The Journal Gazette’s Justin Cohn reported Friday, Chase could have gone on to wider audiences and wider fame many times. He and his wife, Muriel, passed up those opportunities because they loved living in Fort Wayne.
In time, the city and his sport returned that love, showering him with honors during his final seasons.
When he was awarded the "Key to the Fort" by Mayor Tom Henry in 2013, Chase was characteristically humble when he heard his accomplishments as a broadcaster recounted.
"Whether I’ve accomplished them through skill or endurance, I don’t know," he said that day.
Those words apply, but Chase’s relationship with his team and his community evoke two others: loyalty and love.