I could do that any day there’s a game.
But the truth is … being involved with the Patroons for these many years, during their first CBA run, during their second CBA run, during that stint in the USBL, and with the past two seasons in the NAPB and the TBL … have allowed me opportunities I could never have previously imagined. Ever.
It’s allowed me to achieve wishes and dreams I never previously considered.
Let me explain.
Way back in ancient times – and by “ancient times,” I mean around 1990 or so – I had developed a fascination with Albany’s sports history. At that time, Albany had several sporting franchises – the Patroons, the Albany-Colonie Yankees, the Albany Metro Mallers, the Capital District Islanders, the Albany Firebirds, the Albany Capitals – heck, if there were a professional dodgeball team, I’m sure Albany would have had a franchise in that league at some point in time.
And that’s not counting basketball from the Albany Senators of the 1920’s or the Schaefer Brewers of the 1960’s – or baseball from the Albany Senators of the 1920’s – 1950’s – or a slew of other sports and competitions.
I would spend hours in the Albany Public Library, rifling through old microfilms and reading the stories of these teams and following their progresses.
The Patroons had a vibrant history, and it was all chronicled in those microfilms. And eventually, I pitched to Patroons Director of Operations Joe Hennessey that I could provide them with a game insert for each Patroons home game during the 1992-93 season.
“How much would it cost?” Hennessey asked.
Season tickets for myself and my family. That’s all.
Chuck Miller, sports historian.
Let’s spin forward to 2005. After a decade in the diaspora, the Patroons have returned to the Continental Basketball Association. I attended a team tryout, and was attempting to get some action photos. Unfortunately, my camera was a Nikon CoolPix 800, which was essentially a glorified point and shoot.
Someone said to me, “If you want to really take great pictures, you need a better camera. At least get one with a detachable lens. Like a professional would use.
That “professional camera” was a Nikon D70 with a kit lens. If I tried to use such a camera today at a sporting event, I would be laughed out of the building.
But in 2005, I could get action shots like this …
and it encouraged me to move further in time. It also helped me earn serious cred with several of the Patroons, including Jamario Moon (who, although he went to a full NBA career, he has told anyone who will listen that my photo right there was the best dunking photo of his career).
And it started me on a real commitment toward photography.
Let’s now jump to 2008. The Patroons are in the CBA, but there are some cracks in the league and cracks in the team. And by the third game, the team manager was looking for replacements at the scorer’s table.
“Have you ever called a game before?” he asked me.
“You mean like over the PA system?”
“Sure, all the time,” I lied.
I got behind the microphone. And after a couple of initial flubs – including a rebuke by Times Union beat reporter Tim Wilkin, who called me the worst PA announcer he’s ever heard – I got better. I had to. What was I going to do, fire myself?
I called most of the season, which was fun. And I learned many things in doing so.
When the Patroons returned to Albany in 2018 as part of the North American Premier Basketball League, I stepped in when the official Patroons announcer had scheduling conflicts. And in 2019, I thought I would be calling Patroons games once more.
Then the Armory general manager asked if I would consider calling the games on the Patroons’ Internet stream. You know, being the team’s Chick Hearn.
This would definitely be a new step for me. Honestly, the last time I called any sort of broadcast basketball game was back at Hamilton College, when I co-anchored the broadcast of our women’s basketball game. After the contest, the tape was destroyed. I don’t blame them for destroying the tape. I was hella bad.
But this year, working with John Longdon and understanding more of the flow and rhythm of the game, I developed a new confidence behind the microphone.
And earlier this year, when John had a scheduling conflict, I stepped up and called my first professional basketball game – solo. Look, I’m not going to put Marv Albert out of a job, but I think I did okay.
I say that because although I’ll never be that killer point guard who can hit three-pointers with ice-dagger efficiency, nor will I ever be that dominating center that can swat away incoming baskets like King Kong swats away biplanes, I’ve still been able to achieve certain goals in my life.
And thanks to the Albany Patroons, I’ve developed a keen eye for photography, I’ve improved in public speaking, and I can still call a mean “3J from EJ Gallup” long-distance basket that will rock the crowd to its feet. 😀
So that’s the basis for today’s blog post. The Patroons are hosting the Raleigh Firebirds tonight at the Armory – Albany has made the postseason, and this game is essentially a determination as to who gets home-court advantage in the first round.
And if you’re not able to attend the match, fire up your computer and listen to the game on the league’s Internet streaming service.
You might just hear a familiar voice.
And I’ll certainly take that.
Wouldn’t you, if you had the chance?