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Monday, September 22, 2014
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Published: Wednesday, 3/20/2013

A 21-question salute with retiring Toledo Walleye PA announcer Vergiels

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Position: Walleye public address announcer

Hometown: LaSalle, Mich.

Born: March 17, 1952

What are your all-time favorite catchphrases? Hey T-Town. Here they come. Your Toledo (Stooorrrmmm or Wallleeeyyyyeee). All Walleye are back in the pond. Toledo is back at full strength. Hey Toledo, are you ready for more (and then the song T-Town Hockey plays). Hey T-Town, let’s count ’em up.

What are you going to miss the most? The fans, and the sense of belonging to an organization. The fans are a family to me. One of the greatest thrills I get now is when young people — who were kids when I started — bring their own children down and introduce them to me. Makes me cry every time.

What are you going to miss the least? There were times — not many over the years, but there were times — I just wanted to be home because I was tired or I didn’t feel well. But you have this obligation to do the game and off you go.

Does it mean a lot to you that you still get booed after all these years? Absolutely it does. It is a tradition in sports that likely is not repeated anywhere else.

Your most embarrassing moments? Doing score-oh and walking up behind a little kid who wound up to do a slap shot and nailed me right in my privates. The other night I announced the wrong Wheeling guy for a penalty. They guy who did get the penalty yells over to me, “Hey, I’m not as ugly as that guy.”

Who are your all time favorite hockey players? Rick Judson. Iain Duncan. Nick Vitucci. Evan Rankin. Matt Krug. Kyle Rogers. Aaron Boh. Shawn Maltby. B.J. MacPherson. Alexandre Jacques. Nick Parillo.

What did you like about the old Sports Arena and the new Huntington Center? At the Sports Arena, I loved the closeness and intimacy of the environment. The intensity of the fans was something we likely won’t see again. They knew when to cheer and jeer and were good at both. The Huntington Center has to be the best facility of its kind at this level in the country.

The promotions that you’ve most liked over the years? I love the Labatt Blue Light Bean Bag game. I don’t care for Chuck a Puck. I always get hit with a puck. I like it when they bring back the teams of old. The 25th anniversary of the 1975 Turner Cup team was absolutely the best ever.

Favorite athlete: Shelley Looney – a hockey player from my home who scored the goal that beat the Canadians in the Olympics. She is a tremendous person.

Favorite Tiger: Favorite of all time was Rocky Colavito (sorry Cleveland fans). But my favorite current Tiger is Rick Porcello, with Miguel Cabrera a real close second.

Favorite UM basketball player: Tim Hardaway, Jr., (men’s) and Kate Thompson (women’s)

Favorite Storm player: Rick Judson

Favorite Walleye player: Toss-up — Evan Rankin and Matt Krug

Nickname: In high school I was “Lugnuts,” which I hated. When I played baseball I was “Stretch” because I could do the splits.

Favorite quote: “Those who stay will be champions,” Bo Schembechler, and, “They can because they THINK they can.”

Favorite Web site: Facebook. I have used it to link up with old friends.

Favorite season or month: I like September and October. Last October I announced baseball, football, hockey, and basketball all in the same weekend.

What is your pet peeve? The traffic light turns green and not all cars move forward together. And then I miss the blasted light because they did not move quickly enough.

What is your worst habit? I don’t listen to people as well as I should. Now what was that you asked me?

Something nobody knows about you: I applied for the Journalist in Space program back in the 1980s (I was a travel writer then) and made it far enough that NASA sent me this huge questionnaire to fill out to consider me to be an astronaut. The program was canceled after the teacher was killed in the space shuttle explosion. But if NASA calls me tomorrow to go on a space flight, you had better find someone else to announce my next game because I am going. I sing, too.

What lasting impression/impact do you hope you’ve made on Toledo hockey? I want people to remember me as someone who helped make the games more fun, and who had as much fun at the games as the fans did.



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