ESCANABA - Bob Wallenstein was flabbergasted to learn he has been selected for the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame.
"I thought my time had long since passed," said Wallenstein. "I couldn't have seen anything like this coming if you had given me a million bucks. It really makes my day, my week, my month and my year."
Wallenstein, who goes by the moniker Bob Chase on WOWO Radio, has done play-by-play of the Fort Wayne Komets hockey team for 55 years. That ties the record for broadcasting one hockey team set by Foster Hewitt of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Wallenstein, 82, only trails Vince Scully of the Los Angeles Dodgers for consecutive years announcing for one team. Scully has called the Dodgers games for 56 years.
A native of Ishpeming, Wallenstein worked at WDMJ Radio in Marquette after playing some basketball for C.V. "Red" Money at Northern Michigan University following World War II.
He arrived in Fort Wayne in 1953 and landed the hockey job because he was the only employee who knew the sport. That first year he also announced one of the all-time high school basketball classics, tiny Milan's 32-30 upset of Muncie Central for the state championship featured in the movie "Hoosiers."
"It was so sensational," he said, noting Milan had 120 students and Muncie Central had 3,400.
Wallenstein has also broadcast the Indianapolis 500 and NBA basketball, when the Detroit Pistons called Fort Wayne home.
He is already enshrined in two other hall of fames and has received two prestigious awards from Indiana's governor, including the state's highest civilian award, the Sagamore of the Wabash.
Wallenstein turned down a chance to succeed UPSHF inductee Bruce Martyn as voice of the Detroit Red Wings, noting he had just taken a new position at WOWO. Martyn eventually returned to the Red Wings' mike.
He recently underwent knee replacement surgery, which has for the time forced him to miss another love, golf. When he retired from WOWO, at least from major duties, the company gave him a week's trip to Scotland and rounds at seven courses, including Royal Troon, Carnoustie and Prestwick.
"This is the pinnacle of my life," he said of his UPSHF selection.
Among the inductees April 25 at The Danforth Place will be Mark Olson. "I am so pleased and honored to be part of this with Mark. We go back years and years together," he said.
Wayne Marshall of Gladstone made a grand debut at the Michigan Sports Sages annual meeting recently.
Marshall claimed medalist honors at the Alpine Golf Course at Boyne Highlands with a 76. He was inducted into the organization that evening, joining a host of other area men.
The Sports Sages is for men who are at least age 50 and have been involved in state athletics for at least 25 years. Ken Myllyla of Escanaba became president of the organization at the latest meeting.