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Wednesday, April 16, 2014         

LOOKING BACK


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Islanders, isle still delight broadcaster

By A.J. McWhorter

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During the 1960s and into the 1980s, Hawaii Islanders baseball teams were a hit with the local fans. Radio broadcaster Marty Chase called the play-by-play for the ball club during its early years. Today, Chase looks back on his time in Honolulu where he worked in print, radio and television.

Chase was born in New York City, the son of an Army officer. He lived in many places, from Michigan, New Hampshire and Israel to Arlington, Va., where he graduated from high school.

"I moved 11 times before the 10th grade," he said.

A sports fan from a young age, Chase wrote for the Washington Post covering high school sports, and by his senior year he was the high school sports editor for the Washington Daily News.

After high school Chase enrolled at Ohio State University. In 1959 he made his first trip to the islands to visit his parents and sister, who had moved to Hawaii and were living at Fort Ruger.

"I remember looking out the (airplane) window as we flew over Waikiki and thinking ... 'Wow, this place looks pretty nice,'" he said.

In January 1961 Chase decided to leave the cold winters of Ohio and transfer to the University of Hawaii. His print experience and love of sports landed him jobs with United Press International and The Associated Press as a sports stringer. He covered University of Hawaii sports, NBA exhibitions, golf tournaments and the Hawaii Islanders.

Chase was at the Islanders' first game on April 20, 1961, a 4-3 loss to the Vancouver Mounties.

That same year, he was hired as a sportswriter for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and even had his own fishing column.

With an eye toward broadcasting, Chase helped KGMB's Frank Valenti with the college football scoreboard on the "Sports Editor" television program. Chase also handled afternoon fishing reports from Kewalo Basin for Ed Sheehan on his "Pau Hana" concert program and had his own sports show on KGMB radio in 1963. Then he began providing the color commentary, as well as pre- and postgame Islanders radio shows with the late Harry Kalas.

In 1965, Chase began his play-by-play work for the Islanders alongside Hank Greenwald. He was also sports anchor for KGMB News with Jim Topping and Bob Barker. In 1966, Chase became the main play-by-play Islanders announcer when radio coverage was on KORL. He also worked with Ted Sax, Jim Loomis, Dick Phillips and Al Michaels on Islanders radio coverage. In 1967 Chase was hired by KHVH television to be their sportscaster, working with Mason Altiery, Don Robbs and Jim Manke.

Chase enjoyed calling games at the old Honolulu Stadium.

"The Termite Palace we called it, an unbelievable place, ramshackle in a way, but it had a sense of character. I remember small fires breaking out under the stands caused by sparks from the hot dog grills," he said.

Chase recalls interviewing baseball great Casey Stengel at the stadium.

"He told one story after another, and we ended up going way overtime on the postgame show, but the fans loved it."

Another memorable moment came when Bob Chance "hit a 600-foot home run that completely cleared the right-field bleachers and landed on the roof of the bowling alley behind Honolulu Stadium," he said.

Chase's final year broadcasting Islanders baseball was 1968. In June he was called to active duty with the Hawaii National Guard at Schofield.

"I called a no-hitter, and the next morning I'm doing KP duty at 5 a.m.," he said.

In August 1969 Chase earned a history degree from UH and moved to Washington, D.C., to attend graduate school at American University. After obtaining a master's in communication, he joined the Fairchild News Service covering the Pentagon and economic beat during the Nixon administration.

In 1974 Chase transferred to London to become bureau chief for Fairchild. Moving back to the States in 1976, he became managing editor of a daily trade paper, American Metal Market, eventually becoming its Washington bureau chief.

For more than 15 years, he covered international trade and economic issues for Kiplinger and worked as a business editor for the Charleston Gazette in West Virginia before retiring in 2004.

Chase's love for calling Islanders baseball remains close to his heart, but he will tell you the best thing he did in Hawaii was marry his wife, Judy, whom he met when they worked together at the Star-Bulletin.

In recent years the Chases have visited Hawaii often, spending at least a month during the winter.

"I like Hawaii, we had great times out there," he said.

A.J. McWhorter, a collector of film and videotape cataloging Hawaii's TV history, has worked as a producer, writer and researcher for local and national media. His column runs on the second Sunday of each month. E-mail him at flashback@hawaii.rr.com.






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