On Sports

by: COURTESY PHOTO  - Mike Stone will complete a 16-year run as the Beavers' public-address voice - in football and all but this year in basketball.The end of an era comes Saturday, when Oregon State plays host to Nicholls State in its regular-season finale at Reser Stadium.

Mike Stone will complete a 16-year run as the Beavers’ public-address voice — in football and all but this year in basketball. Brian Brooks has taken over basketball this season and will be the new football P.A. voice next season.

Stone, 66, has a broadcasting background that spans more than four decades. It’s safe to say the Portland resident has a more varied portfolio than any sports announcer in the state’s history.

During his career, Stone has served as the radio play-by-play voice for football and basketball at Oregon, the radio basketball voice for basketball at the University of Portland, the public-address announcer for the Trail Blazers, Portland Beavers, Timbers, Forest Dragons and Prowlers and, since 1997, the P.A. voice of the OSU Beavers.

Through most of his career, Stone had a rich voice that held up well and made him one of the best at his trade. Health issues in recent years — including a stroke and seizure that hospitalized him for some time in November 2011 — have impacted that enough that he felt forced into retirement.

“My original plan was to make this season my final one,” Stone says. “But I’ve had a lot of voice issues in the last three or four years. The stroke and seizure pushed me to walk away sooner.”

Stone’s health problems began in 1999, when he had surgery for lymphoma to remove tumors from his neck and an ear. Surgeons discovered at that point he had throat cancer. Radiation treatments affected his saliva glands, blood vessels and veins and forced him to have surgery six years later to remove all of his teeth.

Last year was especially traumatic. First there was a ruptured hernia, followed by surgery to remove gallstones, his gallbladder and another organ. Finally came the stroke and seizure that resulted in separations to both shoulders and a fracture of his right shoulder.

Like anyone in his position, Stone has gone through some “why me?” moments. He has persevered and continued to make the trips for games to Corvallis — though for the past three years, he hasn’t been able to drive, catching rides with engineer Mike Schacker.

“It’s a process now,” Stone says of his health. “My strength isn’t back to normal yet, but I’m doing pretty good. My blood pressure medications have increased, but that might calm down once I get away from sports.”

Stone’s first year at Oregon State was 1997, Mike Riley’s first year as football coach. Two years later, Stone was on hand for the first game at newly named Reser Stadium, and has been the regular P.A. voice for OSU football since then.

“I really fell in love with the Beavers,” he says. “That university feels like the state of Oregon, it really does.”

Stone is proud of his audience-participation first-down call — “that’s another OSU first down!”

“I feel like a part of something that was created, and the students and fans embraced to the max,” he says. “The whole atmosphere of watching a football game there has changed, and I like to think I had something to do with that.”

Stone believes he was relieved of his P.A. duties with the Blazers because he wasn’t enough of a homer. As with all P.A. announcers these days, he favors the home team, but he has never gone overboard.

“I took it to the edge, but I like to think I did it with personality and legitimate enthusiasm,” he says, adding with a chuckle, “I don’t like the direct cheerleading, but if you talk to (UO P.A. voice) Don Essig, he thinks I’m a cheerleader.”

Stone says he has enjoyed his relationship with the workers he regularly has seen in the press box — the media, the game operations staffers, the scorekeepers.

“I identify with them,” he says. “I was a blue-collar guy tossed into a white-collar world.”

Stone, given the “DNA Award” for special contributions at the Oregon Sports Awards in February, knows he will miss his work.

“Very much so,” he says. “It was my way of still participating. Retirement is nothing I want to do. But there comes a time to step aside.”

Stone is facing another shoulder surgery over the Christmas holidays.

“Then I should be good to go,” he says.

Stone would love to get some part-time work producing or helping out in Portland radio. I’m hoping he finds something. Cold turkey is not the way to go for someone who has devoted so many years to something he loves.

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Twitter: @kerryeggers

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