Paul Loeffler, being the slacker he is, answered the phone Saturday from his north Fresno home, as opposed to a press box or courtside seat. What, does he think that all these baseball and basketball games and spelling bees are going to announce themselves?
“Well, I’m going out to Beiden in about an hour,” Loeffler said, and that’s more like it.
Loeffler is the radio voice of Fresno State football, men’s basketball and baseball. He does local and national spelling bees, and would probably do quinceaneras and bat mitzvahs if he could square out the time.
As it is, all he does is bank American Airlines miles and Marriott platinum points so you can know the Fresno State score during the traffic jam home.
(Full disclosure: this column considers Loeffler a personal friend, in that we’ve tried his backyard barbecue and had him over to church, and still choose to take his calls).
We like Loeffler because we like excellence, and can only hope that Fresno State listeners appreciate a local great when they hear one.
Remember when the Bulldogs’ basketball team took the lead against Utah at the NCAA Tournament on Thursday? Loeffler was the one screaming about it.
How about when the baseball Bulldogs won the College World Series? Loeffler called every play of every inning – his voice cracking like a little girl (his words, not ours).
The better the Bulldogs get, the busier Loefller becomes, which is to say he’s had negative-40 minutes of sleep the past two weeks.
“I have gotten pretty good at sleeping on planes,” Loeffler said.
How could he not, with so much practice?
Let’s start with this past week.
“What was Sunday? Where was I?”
Home, for a morning, before hitting the NCAA Tournament selection show at Fresno State.
“What did I do Monday? I think I helped out at my daughter’s classroom. I’d have to look.”
Oh, you thought Loeffler slept on a cot at the radio station between calls? He can’t. His wife, Tonia, still likes him to come home at night, and his little girls Mallory and Avery insist on as much.
Family means Loeffler takes the last flight out of Fresno and the earliest plane back. He uses his off-air time to visit war veterans and elementary schools and small church groups and cynical sports columnists – we know, are there any other kind?
Back to last week. Loeffler emcee’d the Fresno County spelling bee, then joined the Madness in Denver, and jetted back to Fresno so he could call nine at Beiden Field. The week before, he worked games from San Diego to Logan, Utah, back to San Diego to Long Beach to Fresno and to Las Vegas in a six-day whirl.
“The last few weeks have been a little crazy,” said Loeffler, and we’d hate to see what a lot crazy looks like.
For a Syracuse grad who never took a class on how to live out of a carry-on suitcase, Loeffler makes it all work. He’s missed two games ever, both to canceled flights. He almost never misses church, even when he’s out of town, because to know Loeffler’s story is to know God is why he does what he does and how he does.
“God’s plans are always better than mine,” Loeffler said. “It’s about Him, not me.”
Well, then, let’s all thank the Lord for giving us a local radio announcer who tells a good story.
1. It was tough to appreciate Paul George when he was a Fresno State Bulldog because his best days came after the Indiana Pacers drafted him. Not so for Bulldogs senior Marvelle Harris, who gave the program its best four years of basketball since Melvin Ely. We hope you enjoyed every last jump shot he made at the NCAA Tournament, because the guy had no quit.
2. Now that your NCAA Tournament bracket has gone the way of the char-broiled flame, may we all take a moment to appreciate the Fresno State men’s team for reminding us what March Madness feels like? Nauseating and stupendous, all at once.
3. Our good friends at the San Jose Mercury News reported the 49ers held back three months of rent from the city of Santa Clara. We always did make out Jed York to be the squatter type.