Great Memories of Jim Irwin
Goodbye to a Legend
I will always remember the day I was hired by WTMJ, and by chance I met Jim Irwin.
You see, this man was one of the major reasons I'm in this business. As a kid, I fell asleep listening to my clock radio, with Jim Irwin calling Bucks games and getting all over Jess Kersey for bad calls.
"Jess....Jess...you can't call that traveling," Jim would shout out on the court. Classic.
I dreamed of being a Badger, as Jim called the epic upset of Michigan in 1981.
And of course I lived and died by listening to Jim and Max and Packers football in the fall. And as a kid of the 70's and 80's, I usually died by all the losing of those years.
And now, I'm standing in the same hallway as the man I grew up listening to, and I'm about ready to hyperventilate.
Probably sensing I was ready to pass out, Jim simply said "Welcome to the team, Lance. I've heard good things about you."
And that, my friends, was Jim. He never treated you as beneath him. You were his peer. And I was proud to call him a friend.
When Jim didn't attend the Packers-Chargers game in San Diego, like he often did in retirement, I knew something wasn't right. When I got back to Milwaukee, I called the Irwin's house and left a message.
Within 5 minutes, Jim called back. A little weaker, but ready to talk for nearly 30 minutes.
When his wife Gloria got on the phone, she said Jim didn't get to golf all summer because of his treatments, and she was sometimes forcing him to eat. Thank goodness that final time, I was able to express to Jim what he meant to me, my career, and kids of the 70's and 80's making calls just like him.
In talking with his daughter Ann, she said "Dad always felt like he lived a charmed life. And he loved the warmth he felt from the fans.
Around these parts, Jim will be sadly missed.
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