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The ‘Voice of the Rebels’ is stepping away from the mic

Updated August 18, 2022 - 8:59 am

Dick Calvert had just putted out on the 18th hole Wednesday morning when his cellphone rang. The caller wanted to ask about his decision to retire as UNLV’s Hall of Fame public-address announcer after 52 years.

Golfing at age 86 he can still handle. But Calvert said he knew he had reached the point in his life where it was time to step away from the mic, even though he still will be involved in UNLV athletics in other ways, such as providing voice-overs for radio ads.

Calvert was most known as the booming PA voice at Rebels men’s basketball, football and baseball games, but he also handled those responsibilities for USA Basketball, the Las Vegas Bowl and NBA Summer League. And he was a play-by-play announcer at three World Cups — in 1986 in Mexico, 1990 in Italy and 1994 in the United States.

The Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame inducted Calvert in 2010, and UNLV did the same in 2017.

“I thought I would be doing this when I’m 100 years old, I really did,” Calvert said. “It’s the normal thing that happens every year, I’d start another year, so I thought it would never end. Never really gave it much thought.”

Caleb Herring, who as a senior in 2013 quarterbacked the Rebels to the Heart of Dallas Bowl, said Calvert’s voice could be heard clearly on the field.

“It’s kind of narrating your playing experience,” said Herring, who enters his sixth season as the radio game analyst. “So it kind of becomes synonymous with a lot of the highlights of my playing career to hear his voice announce what just happened. Having success my senior season and him being there every step of my career, he was able to recall things when I met him off the field that was just a complete student of the game, a fan of UNLV through and through.

“It’s going to be hard to listen to the PA and it’s not Dick Calvert.”

Calvert, who experienced a serious case of COVID in December 2020, said he and his wife, Anne, had been discussing when he should leave the booth. She worked the press box at football games while Calvert called out plays over the loudspeaker.

“I have been very impressed with my husband’s work over the 52 years,” Anne Calvert said. “God has been very good to both of us. For him to have done that for 52 years I feel is awesome.”

Calvert met with UNLV athletic director Erick Harper and Andy Grossman, the senior associate AD for strategic communications, on July 29 about retiring and said they made the decision together.

Though Calvert said Harper and Grossman “have been unbelievably generous,” the finality of that decision was “scary as hell.”

“After it was over with, I told Andy, ‘The retention of what we talked about is totally lost because I’m in shock,’ ” said Calvert, chuckling. “Hey, 52 years doing the same thing.”

In a statement, Harper called Calvert “a bona fide legend in college athletics.”

“We appreciate every inning, quarter, round and half that he has called over the last half-century for the Rebels and look forward to celebrating his amazing career during the upcoming seasons,” Harper said.

Calvert said he didn’t initially intend to become a PA announcer.

His dream was to play catcher in the major leagues, and though Calvert said he possessed the defensive ability to make it to the upper level, his hitting prevented him from getting past Class A.

Calvert’s baseball days weren’t done, however. He was a scout in the Dodgers’ organization and the manager for the Pacific Coast League’s club in Spokane, Washington.

“Even though I was fascinated for years about announcers, I never thought I’d be one,” Calvert said.

He became one and then kept going.

For 52 years, his deep voice filling the Thomas & Mack Center or Sam Boyd Stadium.

“It really is time,” Calvert said, “for some young talent to come in.”

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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