Jim Leahey, the voice of UH sports for nearly three decades, might have called his last game Sunday as Oceanic takes over the production of University of Hawaii sports from KFVE
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, May 17, 2011
The sun rose over East Honolulu yesterday, but it was not just the start of another day for sportscaster Jim Leahey.
"I don't know what the future holds," said Leahey, who has served as the narrator of University of Hawaii sportscasts for nearly three decades.
KFVE's contract with UH expires next month, but this past Sunday's baseball game was the station's last live UH telecast after a 27-year run. After the game — won by UH in dramatic fashion on a three-run error in the final inning — the KFVE crew gathered for a group photo.
With Oceanic Time Warner set to take over production and distribution of UH sportscasts this summer, the future of KFVE's crew is uncertain.
Leahey said he has been contacted by "a few people" associated with Oceanic and UH.
"There have been no meetings yet, or anything like that," Leahey said.
At this time in past years, he would rest before getting ready for the start of the football season in a few months.
"Now you don't know," he said. "I don't know what's going to happen."
Calling sporting events is part of Leahey's DNA. His father was trailblazer Chuck Leahey; his son is KHON sports director Kanoa Leahey, who also is a play-by-play announcer for Oceanic's high school football games. Of his own decorated career, Leahey said: "Names and describing games."
He said he is prepared for the possibility that he called his last UH sporting event.
"I think if it's over, well, I did the best I could for as long as I could," Leahey said. "It's like driving in a race. You go as far as you can, and then when it's over, it's over. You cannot control it. Everything is temporary. Everything ends."
Leahey said he has few regrets. He missed about a year while undergoing treatment for leukemia.
Other than that, he has been a relative ironman.
"Since I've done it for so many years," he said, "the body just says, ‘Hey, we have to do this today. We can get sick afterward,' and that's what happens."
He has announced basketball games from Utah's nose-bleed section, and in Fresno State's cramped arena, in which he could feel a heckler's hot breath on his neck.
During one football telecast, he was situated on the concourse level, aligned with the goal line, as if he were shooting the photo finish of a horse race.
"We were looking to our right all of the time, trying to figure out how many yards the guy gained," Leahey said.
Another time, he called a football game from the roof of the press box.
"We were outdoors," he said. "I hoped it didn't rain."
He was true to one tradition. He did not work on Feb. 19, his wedding anniversary.
"I owe it to my dear, sweet wife, who's been with me for 45 years," he said. "I have a wonderful family. They knew I would be working at night and on weekends, and they adjusted."
Leahey has been credited with an expansive vocabulary, which he credits to "reading, reading, reading," and to his wife.
Toni Leahey interrupted a recent interview to remind him that he meant to say "minutiae" instead of "minutia."
"She knows," Leahey said, chuckling. "She always knows."
Leahey praised the KFVE crew.
"I'll miss their professionalism," he said. "I know I'm going to miss that. They did a terrific job. They were very dedicated."
For now, there are projects to address while he waits.
"If that's the way it is, that's the way it is," Leahey said of his situation. "I can start to do other things that I've always wanted to do, like travel to Waipahu or something."