Darts and laurels: Bob Harris, a local boy who made good

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 10, 2016

Laurels to Bob Harris, the longtime sports voice for Duke University, who says the coming football and basketball seasons — his 41st at the school — will be his last before retirement.

It’s easy to think of Harris as a local boy who made good. An Albemarle native, he started his play-by-play sportscasting career by doing the West Stanly High football games on Friday nights. It was a part-time gig, because he was an insurance salesman by day.

WZKY Station Manager Ralph Gardner gave Harris a reel-to-reel tape recorder for those games, and Harris’ call wasn’t broadcast until 11 the following Saturday morning because 250-watt WZKY only broadcast during the daylight hours.

The Albemarle station recognized what it had in Harris, eventually hiring him full-time and making him a morning host and sports director. By 1975, Harris moved his family to Durham for a sales job at WDNC,  and within a week he was the host for a sports talk show. He joined then Duke play-by-play man Add Penfield on Duke football and basketball games as a color commentator, and when Penfield retired in 1976, Harris was his replacement.

The rest is, as you have to say, broadcasting history. A N.C. Sports Hall of Famer  and three-time N.C. Broadcaster of the Year, Harris will become this season the longest-tenured play-by-play man ever in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Harris’ career has taken in five Duke national championships in basketball, and 13 Final Fours. Coming into this season, Harris has called 459 consecutive Duke football games. He also has been behind the microphone for 1,358 basketball games, which include an astonishing 104 Duke-North Carolina games.

Anyone who has heard Harris’ broadcasts will have to agree with how Harris described himself a few years back. Harris said he is simply a fan with a microphone. For generations of Duke fans, he SCORES!

Dart to summer. Now that we’re solidly into the season, the regular thunderstorms and oppressive heat summer brings with it are pretty tiresome.

A powerful thunderstorm this past Tuesday walloped Rowan with a burst of wind and rain that put trees on power lines, onto houses and into roads. Thousands of people lost power, and the cleanup was made even tougher by 90-degree temperatures that the heat index said felt more like 100-plus degrees.

Hey, summer, what do you think this is, July?

Laurels to the group of seven Rowan County Sheriff’s officers who sprang into action June 27 to save the life of Gary Baldwin. When Baldwin went into cardiac arrest in Superior Court and stopped breathing, it took the team of officers, also employing the courtroom’s automated external defibrillator, to get him breathing again until Baldwin could be transported elsewhere.

Thanks,  John Howard, Tim Cook, Lane Kepley, Brian Rucker, Tim Drew, Chance Williams and Darren Stewart.