After 45 years, Morrissey to step aside
MINNEAPOLIS — Next year at this time, Mike Morrissey plans to be in Florida, maybe walking along a beach or sipping an umbrella drink on his deck.
And miles away from Target Center or Williams Arena.
After 45 years of doing play-by-play at the state basketball tournament — mainly for radio station KDHL-AM (920) in Faribault — Morrissey is about to retire.
His last state basketball tournament game will be Saturday's Class AA championship.
"It's time,'' he said. "There are so many memories I wouldn't know where to begin, but I do know it's time to move on.''
Morrissey, who'll turn 73 in a few days on April 2, started doing state tournament games in 1968 when he worked for a station in Wadena. He eventually moved to KDHL in 1986.
KDHL started broadcasting state tournament games since 1948, when it first went on the air.
"We do all the semifinal and championship games from every class, boys and girls,'' said Morrissey. "This year we're doing 19 games and I'm doing 10 of them (Gordy Kosfeld, the KDHL sports director, is doing the rest). No, it never gets old.''
Morrissey retired from his regular announcing duties at the radio station 11 years ago but still kept on doing high school football, boys and girls basketball and has also been the voice of St. Olaf College.
He will keep doing high school and St. Olaf football games.
"As soon as the Prep Bowl is over, I'll be off to Florida,'' he said. "I'm going to get married and my fiancee lives in Sarasota. It's a long story, but she was my high school classmate in Aberdeen.''
Morrissey estimates he calls 75 basketball games a season — a few years it got up to 90 — which means he's close to 3,500 during his legendary career.
"That's a lot of names,'' he said. "I'll miss the games, I'll miss the state tournament for sure, but I won't miss the traveling. Going back and forth from Rochester the past couple of weeks in the fog and ice and snow wasn't a whole lot of fun.''
He says Mark Olberding of Melrose was probably the best high school player he's ever seen and his team was one of the best of all time.
"With a few breaks they could have won three straight championships,'' he said.
He also called a game when Theresa Tierney played for St. Paul Central.
Theresa Tierney is Joe Mauer's mother.
"Some good genes, there, wouldn't you say?'' Morrissey said. "She was a real good player if I remember correctly.''
Morrissey is a member of the Minnesota Coaches Hall of Fame in three sports — football, basketball and baseball.
"Let's just say it's been a great run,'' he said. "It's amazing the listeners you reach. It used to be I got letters, but now it's E-mail, but they're out there, believe me. We may be doing a game between teams who are far away from Faribault, but somebody is going to be paying attention.''
KDHL has carried every state basketball tournament since it first went on the air 65 years ago in 1948. "We're the only station in the state with that much of a commitment,'' Morrissey said.
And now it's time to say goodbye.
"What will I say on Saturday? Oh, I don't know,'' he said. "I'll thank all of the listeners and also the sponsors. You can hardly broadcast a game without sponsors.''
And next year during the tournament?
"I'll be glad to send an E-mail,'' he said, "and ask how the tournament is going. And I'll probably also mention that it's 80 degrees out and sunny.''
Gophers on TV
• The Minnesota and UCLA West Region game today (9 p.m.) is the last of 32 games in the first round of the NCAA tournament. It will air on truTV (Charter Communications Channel 39) with announcers Tim Brando, Mike Gminski and Otis Livingston.
On radio, the game will be broadcast on KROC-AM (1340).