I can hear it now…
“Douglas shoots from the foul line…no good…rebound Caribou…ball goes to Thurston with 2 seconds left…he shoots from mid-court…it’s good…it’s good…Caribou wins it…you can’t imagine it…Thurston…shot a 50 footer and made it at the gun… this was the most fantastic game of basketball I have ever seen!”
The final 10 seconds of the Class A high school state championship basketball game in 1969 at Bangor Auditorium : Caribou 65, Westbrook 63.
When I heard the news the other day that the Maine Association of Broadcasters will induct Aroostook County sportscaster Dewey Dewitt into their Hall of Fame in October, it was the first thing I thought of. That final call of that amazing game 43 years ago.
The second thing I thought of — it’s about time Dewey Dewitt and hall-of-famer are used in the same line!
Now, full disclosure here. I was just 12 years old when “the shot” happened, I didn’t hear it live. But I’ve heard it on tape a hundred times, including transcribing the words for this blog. The hair on my arms still tingle every time I hear it.
Further disclosure. When I got into the broadcasting business, some of my family members started calling me Dewey Duff. Still do today. I proudly answer to that nickname.
So you can imagine how I felt the first time I met Dewey Dewitt. I was a high schooler back in the ’70s helping Bob Blanchette broadcast games on Houlton radio. I can’t even remember if the opponent was Caribou or Presque Isle. But I can remember almost everything Dewey said to me when we chatted before the game.
Every region in the state has its historic broadcasters. There are a lot of good ones. In the County, Dewey Dewitt is that living legend in the sportscasting genre. For decades, he called play-by-play, interviewed and reported on all the great names of county coaches and players in high school basketball.
Condon. Kelly. Spurling. Blanchard. Hunter. Hartford. Buckley. Adams. Thurston.
While the Caribou buzzer-beater is his signature call, Dewey Dewitt is much more than just that call. At 90 years old, he can still tell you about the night Easton HS won the state title on a last-second shot by Tyler Perry. He can tell you about the 1954 state title won by little Bridgewater HS thanks in big part to star player “Steady Eddie” Buckley — nickname courtesy of Dewey.
That voice. That smooth style of delivering play-by-play. That passion for high school basketball. That’s Dewey Dewitt. Soon to be MAB Hall of Famer Dewey Dewitt.
Oh, by the way, you might also call him a prophet. His radio recap of the ’69 Thurston shot included this. “… 50 years from now they’ll still be talking about the spot on the floor where Thurston took that shot…”
That would be the year 2019 and while there will be a new floor, inside a new arena, that spot on the floor and that Dewey Dewitt call will most certainly be remembered by a generation of basketball fans.
Some moments and some hall-of-fame play-by-play calls transcend time.
ITEMS FROM THE DUFFEL BAG:
— No Aroostook County boys team has won the Class A state title since that 1969 Caribou team. Given all the population shifts, who knows if another County school ever plays in the big school division again.
— To further that point, the Caribou boys finished No. 1 in Class A East that year, Presque Isle No. 2 and Houlton No. 6. In fact, only 5 of the 22 schools in Class LL in ’69 remain a Class A division school today.
— Former Woodland HS coach Steve Clifford didn’t get the Portland Trail Blazers head coach job. Clifford, who’s been a NBA assistant coach for 10 years, made it to the team’s list of 4 finalists. The Blazers hired Terry Stotts and now there’s talk Clifford could join the team as a Stotts assistant.
— And one more Maine connection to this story. Former Katahdin HS player and CBA Maine Lumberjacks coach Jim Sleeper is a longtime advance scout for the Trail Blazers.
— Looking ahead to the fall high school sports season, when it’s time for state championships, there will be a strong Eastern Maine site presence. Class A and D soccer games will be played at Hampden (Nov. 3), state championship field hockey games will be played at UMaine (Oct. 27) and the state title volleyball games will be played at Husson University (Oct 26).
— Ever notice on a Red Sox TV game when they show Fenway Park from high above with the blimp camera — it looks so easy to leave Fenway and quickly jump on that Southeast Expressway. Heck, it’s so close to the Green Monster. We all know better, right!
— Add the New England Football Conference to the long list of college leagues going through big-time changes. This will be the final year for Maine Maritime Academy and its fellow members as a 16-team league. Beginning in 2013, the NEFC will be an 8 team conference. (MMA and 7 other schools). Eight other schools become a new football conference called the Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference.
— By the way, MMA was picked to finish 6th in the Bogan Division of NEFC in the preseason coaches poll.
— And one more college football note. After going 0-11 a year ago, Husson University has a much more manageable schedule this time around, including the first 3 games at home.