Man for many seasons

Jim Mandelaro

Democrat and Chronicle

March 8, 2010

 

Gary Smith has never been the No. 1 voice of the Rochester Red Wings, but he holds a unique distinction: He has covered games on radio or television every decade since the 1950s.

The Pittsford resident retired from WHAM-AM (1180) in 2006 after a landmark career in broadcasting. He worked alongside Tom Decker and Jerry Flynn on Wings games from 1959-61, covered TV games on WXXI in the 1960s, '70s and '80s and was the full-time color analyst with Joe Castellano in 1997, when the Wings won the Governors' Cup in their first season at Frontier Field.

He worked a game early this decade to keep his streak intact.

"The first game I ever did (in 1959) was a recreation from Havana," he said. "I was in the WVET studios on South Clinton."

He remembers shagging flies in the 1950s.

"One time, (outfielder) Gene Green asked me to pitch to him," Smith recalled. "He was in a really bad slump. I threw for 45 minutes and thought my arm would fall off. But that night, he hit a homer and a double, and he went on from there."

Smith is proud of the Wings' broadcasting tradition. He believes Tom Decker "could have gone to the majors if he wanted to" and has high praise for Joe Cullinane and current announcer Josh Whetzel.

And yes, he is hoping to broadcast at least one game in the next decade.