Oct. 24, 2012
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa graduate and former baseball letterman Bob Miller grew up wanting to be a sports announcer. Miller followed his passion and has lived out his dream.
That passion originated in Little League when he would announce the game he was playing from centerfield. The Chicago native grew up listening to legendary voices such as Lloyd Pettit, Jack Brickhouse and Bob Elson.
"I remember looking back when I was a kid thinking, 'my goodness, this guy [Bob Elson] has been calling games for 40 years," said Miller. "Who's in a job for 40 years?"
Now, Miller will enter his 40th year of broadcasting with the Los Angeles Kings once the current NHL labor dispute is resolved. Miller has served as the team's play-by-play announcer since 1973.
After 39 years, Miller was finally able to experience reaching ultimate glory this past spring. The Kings, an eight-seed, shocked the sport and won the Stanley Cup. Since hoisting the cup, Miller has attended numerous Stanley Cup parties with players and fans.
"Tom Arnold and I had our photo taken with the Stanley Cup at one of the parties," said Miller. "I said to him that here are two former Hawkeyes with the Stanley Cup. How many times has that happened?"
"Two Hawkeyes holding the Stanley Cup isn't supposed to happen. Any time you get two Hawkeyes together, it's a reunion."
Actor and former UI student Tom Arnold, who has been a Kings fan for 25 years, enjoyed the moment.
"Two Hawkeyes holding the Stanley Cup isn't supposed to happen," Arnold said jokingly. "Any time you get two Hawkeyes together, it's a reunion."
At Iowa, Miller was a second-baseman on the baseball team for two years under coach Otto Vogel. Miller admitted he wasn't that great of a player and didn't play much, but nonetheless, loved his Hawkeye experience.
"I had four great years at Iowa," said Miller. "The setting of Iowa City was exactly what I was looking for. The university is the focal point of the city."
After baseball Miller began his career, like many other legendary voices to broadcast sporting events, at WSUI -- the student radio station at that time.
After graduation and stints at KOEL radio in Oelwein and a television station in Milwaukee, Miller landed a radio job in Madison doing some Badger football and basketball games. Then, one Tuesday in the fall, his career path took a change.
"The program director stopped me in the hall and said, 'by the way, this Friday and Saturday we are broadcasting Wisconsin hockey and you're doing the play-by-play.'" Miller recalled. "I had never done hockey play-by-play before. From the time of the opening faceoff, it was the most challenging play-by-play I have ever done. I got so much satisfaction keeping up with the pace of the game and doing it at a speed that the listener was able to follow."
Then in 1973, Miller got his big break when the Kings hired him, and the rest is history.
His name is included in a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and he has been inducted into numerous broadcasting Hall of Fames. The Staples Center hockey press box is also named in his honore.
"I'm very proud of my longevity to be with one organization for 40 years," said Miller. "It's a great honor and milestone knowing that your name and plaque is going to be in the Hockey Hall of Fame forever."
Humbled by the accolades, Miller is still going strong and is eager for the 2012-13 NHL season to start.
"The Kings have been really good to me," he said. "They have given me a lifetime contract. Even after I retire, they want to keep me on as an ambassador. They have been more than generous. I enjoy it so much that I really don't know how much longer I am going to go."
Arnold said he was happy for the team, but was happier for Miller when the Kings won the cup.
"He's engraved in the fabric of the Kings," said Arnold. "Bob's impact with the fans has been the same as Vin Scully's with the Dodgers. In professional sports, athletes come and go, but Bob Miller is still there and the fans really appreciate that."
Miller is a proud Hawkeye, keeping tabs on Iowa athletics, and saying "Go Hawks" to anyone he sees on the streets wearing black and gold.
"I see Hawkeye fans all the time," said Miller. "In fact, last week I spoke to a communications class at USC and a student walked in the class with a Hawkeye sweatshirt. I gave her the thumbs up."
When the time does come when Miller decides to call his last game, he wants to be remembered as someone who brought enthusiasm and excitement to each broadcast and also got the fans involved to where they looked forward to the game.
"I love meeting and speaking to the fans and making myself accessible to them as much as possible," said Miller. "I really do enjoy that."
Arnold is one of those fans and wants Hawkeye fans to know how much of an impact Miller has had on the Kings fan base and the Los Angeles community.
"Bob Miller is the best," said Arnold. "I hope he is remembered with our greatest Hawkeye success stories."