Apr
20

Little League Legacy: Oneida announcer retires



Abbey Woodcock 04/20/09More articles
Announcer Bob Curtiss will retire after being involved in Oneida Little League for 20-years.
For nearly 20 years, little leaguers in Oneida have heard their names as they came up to bat announced by the unmistakable voice of Bob Curtiss.

Earlier this year, Curtiss let the Oneida Area Little League know that he wouldn’t be coming back this season, a decision that saddens both him and the little league board.
“Bob has been a fixture in the program for a lot of years,” said Mike Sheridan, president of Oneida Area Little League. “When I started, my 17-year-old son was 7, Bob was there. He’s been there the whole time—how do we find another one? I don’t think we will.”

Curtiss has been involved with the little league since retiring from his job at Upstate Medical Center in 1989.
“It’s been a great way to retire and so far removed from what I used to do. I was always busy. Then I got this job—it can hardly be called a job—and it’s been such a great thing.”

When Curtiss started, most of the Oneida Area Little League’s games were played at the Fireman’s Field in Durhamville.

“He’s seen the development and growth of the whole thing,” Sheridan said. “It’s the end of an era, a 20-year era. He’s really seen the whole thing unfold.”

Dugouts and then a press box were built at Maxwell Field on East Sands Street and about seven years ago, games were moved to Maxwell. Two years ago, a second field and press box were completed at Maxwell and now Oneida boasts one of the premier little league facilities in the area.
Oneida has also boasted one of the premier little league announcers.

“Once we established the field at Maxwell, Bob became the voice of little league,” said Jim Kramer, father of five who was an active part of little league for many years.
Curtiss has followed not only the development of the little league program, but individual players as well.

“Some kids that I’ve watched play now have their own kids. When I was going out of town to work, I never got to see this part of the community. Now meeting these kids and young adults, it’s like a whole new group of friends.”
Curtiss has seen many children in the area grow up in the program, including the Kramer family.

“I remember when Mrs. Kramer would push Ryan to (his siblings’ games) in a stroller.”

Kramer looks fondly on Curtiss’s presence in his children’s lives as well.

“All of my five children, from Jim who’s now 28 to Ryan, 18 and me coaching there for a number of years have great memories of Bob,” he said. “He really took ownership over the program. It was all for the kids, he was down there way before the start of the games, raising the flag and hanging out banners. He did it for all the right reasons.”
The game that most stands out for Curtiss is a 33-32 game that was a two-day event.

“I can’t say much for the defense of that game, but there sure was a lot of offense. It was definitely the most unusual game I remember.”

Jim Kramer’s son Matt played in that game.

“I can’t say it was one of my fondest memories,” Jim Kramer said. “From Bob’s perspective and the fan’s perspective it was probably pretty exciting. As a baseball person, it was more like a football score and not my best memory.”

Curtiss is known for making every game an event, announcing each batter as they approach the plate, playing music and cracking jokes along the way.

“I think the kids like the hype,” he said.

“They are shoes I don’t think we’ll ever fill,” Sheridan said. “All the CDs and tapes he had and some of things he said were just classic…I think everyone has been taking it for granted a little bit.”

Sheridan said that with the addition of the new press box last year, they were looking for another announcer but no one has consistently filled the role. Curtiss was always dependable—at the field every night and Saturday throughout the whole season.

It was for this reason that Curtiss decided to step down. It has becoming increasingly difficult for him to make it up the steps into the press box.

“I didn’t want to go to some games and not make others. I’m not a reliable product this year.”

He said, however, that his involvement in the little league
program isn’t over.

“I’m going to get down to the field whenever I can,” he said. “I’ll sit at the picnic tables and jeer—I mean, cheer,” he laughed.

Notes:

Last year on opening day, the Oneida Area Little League dedicated the press box at Maxwell Field to Bob Curtiss, who has been announce games there since its construction.
“He’s very modest. With him its always all about the kids.” said Mike Sheridan, president of Little League. “So we were down there, literally in the dark of night, hanging the sign. We were scared if he found out, he wouldn’t show up (on opening day).”
Opening day ceremonies this year will be held at 8:30 a.m. Saturday May 2, with team pictures and a regular schedule of games to follow.


CATEGORY: General Sports
TAGS: little league, oneida, curtiss
EDITION: Madison Eagle


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