News and Tribune

High School Sports

December 26, 2012

GOLDEN YEARS: Throckmorton, Coomer been a part of high school radio broadcasts for 50 years

JEFFERSONVILLE — All great duos have great chemistry with each other.

A few good examples of those terrific tandems are former San Francisco 49ers’ Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, late actors Andy Griffith and Don Knotts from “The Andy Griffith Show” and late country singers Johnny and June Carter Cash.

In Southern Indiana, one duo has broadcast high school football and basketball games on the radio for 50 years.

The first half of the broadcasting tandem is a household name to all die-hard Jeffersonville High School fans.

That man is 84-year-old Ted Throckmorton, who has done color commentary for high school basketball and football games in the Clark-Floyd area since 1962. The majority of the hundreds and hundreds of contests that Throckmorton has commented on have involved his alma mater, Jeff High, where he graduated from in 1946.

The other half of the longtime duo has been keeping statistics for Throckmorton and four play-by-play announcers throughout that 50-year span.

That person is 86-year-old Gene Coomer, a 1944 Jeff High graduate and a former offensive and defensive lineman for the Red Devils’ football team in the 40s.

Throckmorton gives a simple reason why he and Coomer continue to be a part of high school athletics broadcasts, as they both currently do games on WNDA-AM/1570 in Clarksville.

“Being associated with these teams and being able to broadcast these games certainly keeps me young and I know it does keep Gene young, too,” Throckmorton said.

Coomer says he keeps working radio broadcasts because he still loves watching high school sports in Southern Indiana.

“It’s just the love of the game. We just enjoy doing it,” Coomer said. “It’s sort of hard to sit in the stands and not keep any stats. It’s an avocation. We just have a great interest in Jeffersonville and the other area teams.”

Longtime Southern Indiana radio announcer and Indiana Basketball Hall of Famer Charlie Jenkins, who worked alongside Throckmorton and Coomer for 35 years as the play-by-play announcer at WXVW-AM/1450 (now WQKC-AM) in Jeff, gives another reason why the two men keep broadcasting games.

That reason is Throckmorton and Coomer’s unconditional love for Jeff High athletics, especially Red Devil boys’ basketball.

“They are people that live and die Jeffersonville basketball,” said Jenkins, who has broadcasted high school games for more than 50 years in Southern Indiana. “I’ve never seen two people who are more dedicated to their alma mater than what Gene and Ted are. I could always count on them.

“Ted eats, sleeps and dies Jeffersonville football, basketball and other sports. I’ve had people tell me they could turn their radio on and they would know if Jeff was winning or losing by the tone of Ted’s voice.”

Throckmorton and Coomer knew each other when they attended Jeff High together in the 40s. But they did not become really good friends until after Coomer served in the United States Army in World War II. Throckmorton, a Korean War veteran, and Coomer would usually see each other at Jeff basketball games and got acquainted by talking about the contests at Nachand Fieldhouse in Jeff.

As their friendship continued to grow, they got the opportunity to be a part of their first radio broadcast in 1962. Throckmorton and Coomer joined former 1450 AM Radio play-by-play man Charlie Ryle to call a Jeff High football game at Shannon Memorial Park in Jeff.

Both men’s duties were the same as they are today – Throckmorton providing color commentary, while Coomer compiling stats.

In 1964, Jenkins started working at 1450 and began his long tenure with Throckmorton and Coomer.

Throckmorton says there was no question which person was in charge when the trio was on the air.

“We never tried to second-guess Charlie,” Throckmorton said. “Charlie was the No. 1 guy. It was his call. We respected Charlie. Charlie is down the middle on every game that he calls and that’s professionalism.”

Jenkins said the reason he worked so well with Throckmorton and Coomer was the three men had a great chemistry with each other.

“I think we liked each other and respected each other. Those were key factors in the coverage we were able to give to the area schools,” Jenkins said. “They are good, good people. Ted took a lot of pride - and he still does – in his work on the radio. With Gene being our statistician, it gave him a way to follow Jeff. You can’t say enough about the friends that Gene and Ted have been over the years.”

After Jenkins left 1450 Radio in the late 90s, Throckmorton and Coomer worked with veteran play-by-play announcer Gil Daugherty for 10 years. After Daugherty made his exit, Throckmorton and Coomer joined forces with Zach McCrite for three years, mostly at 1570 AM. Throckmorton and Coomer are currently in their second year broadcasting alongside current 1570 AM play-by-play man Keith Conrad.

One of the amazing things about Throckmorton and Coomer’s 50-year broadcast tenure is they have never been paid one cent for their work on the air.

“Our salary has been consistent,” Coomer said.

“In the 50 years we’ve done the games, we have never received a dime in compensation, which we wouldn’t take,” Throckmorton said.

In 2011, Throckmorton received a huge honor for his broadcasting work. He was inducted into the Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame. To this day, Throckmorton is glad to be considered a Hall of Famer.

“That’s a very special honor,” Throckmorton said. “Charlie Jenkins and [Columbus radio broadcaster] I Sam Simmermaker were the ones that nominated me. For that honor, it’s something that it was not so much for my talent in broadcasting, but for the longevity. I didn’t deserve to be up there with those people. But with Charlie and Sam Simmermaker being my nominators, I guess they felt like this guy is worthy.”

Coomer says no one deserves the Hall of Fame induction more than his longtime friend.

“He’s very deserving,” Coomer said. “It was a good experience for me to have him go into the Hall of Fame, having to sit next to him all these years and admiring the way he can come up with words and talk about things any time that anyone asked him a question on the air. That takes a special talent.”

Throckmorton and Coomer say they are both in good health, and as long as they are healthy, they plan on continuing to broadcast games.

“We’re still alive,” Coomer quipped. “As long as we can walk up the steps at Jeff High School to the booth, [we’ll keep doing it].”

That good health has helped Throckmorton and Coomer to enjoy their work and form a special bond.

“Why wouldn’t we enjoy it?” Throckmorton said. “It keeps us young and involved – that’s what this does for me. I would be lost if Gene wasn’t there with me. He makes our broadcasts much more informative and we never question his numbers just like I don’t question him when he keeps my golf score.

“I feel like we’re a pretty good team – I really do. I listen to a lot of games that are broadcasted, and we’re not the best, but we’re certainly not the worst.”

 

TOP HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS MEMORIES

Jeffersonville High School graduates Ted Throckmorton, 84, and Gene Coomer, 86, each have a countless amount of memories from watching Southern Indiana high school athletics during their lives, which includes 50 years of broadcasting prep basketball and football.

The following is a few of Throckmorton’s and Coomer’s favorite memories:

 

THROCKMORTON

• The Jeffersonville boys’ basketball team’s 1993 state championship. Throckmorton’s words on radio during the final 39 seconds of the Red Devils’ state-title game win over Indianapolis Ben Davis are remembered by almost every die-hard Jeff fan.

• Being a part of a committee during the 1970-71 season to campaign for Jeff standout Mike Flynn to win Indiana Mr. Basketball. The committee created a brochure, which had never been done before in campaigning for the Mr. Basketball award, and mailed it to all the coaches, sportswriters and TV sportscasters across the state. The campaign worked as Flynn won the award.

• The New Albany boys’ basketball team’s 1973 state championship. Throckmorton called the Bulldogs’ state championship game that year with veteran broadcaster Charlie Jenkins. Throckmorton and Jenkins broadcasted the old single-class IHSAA State Finals from 1965 to 1997.

 

COOMER

• The Jeff boys’ basketball team’s 42-36 overtime victory over New Albany in the 1943 Jeff Sectional championship game at Nachand Fieldhouse. The Red Devils rallied from a six-point deficit with 51 seconds left in regulation to force overtime and then win the sectional in the extra session. Coomer’s most memorable shot from that game was the Red Devils’ Bobby Dickey making a field goal while lying on the floor in regulation to force OT.Jeff’s 1993 state championship. Once the game was over, one of Coomer’s grandsons noticed his grandfather had tears in his eyes and asked Coomer why he was crying. “I’ve waited since 1939 for Jeff to win the state championship,” Coomer told his grandson.

 

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