New England Patriots

By Mike “Sarge” Riley, 98.5 The Sports Hub (@Sarge985)

When you turned the radio on in New England, for over three decades you heard the voice of Gil Santos, who became not just a familiar voice but a friend to sports fans. The legendary Patriots broadcaster passed away on Thursday at the age of 80, which was also his birthday.

Santos was the play-by-play voice of the Patriots for 31 seasons, and the color commentator for another five. You probably got to know Gil especially well during a time when Patriots games would be blacked out on TV because the games weren’t sold out, forcing fans to turn the radio on. Gil, being a “pro’s pro,” always painted a clear picture, making you feel like you would be sitting in Foxboro Stadium.

And how could we all forget his Super Bowl championship calls? None being more famous then Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning field goal kick on the last play of Super Bowl XXXVI. “The kick is on the way and it is … GOOD! ITS GOOD! ITS GOOD! ADAM VINATIERI BOOMS A 48-YARD FIELD GOAL! AND THE PATRIOTS ARE SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS!”

I think it’s safe to say, we all still get chills hearing that call to this day.

On a personal note, growing up in the Boston area, I listened to Gil daily on WBZ NewsRadio for his morning sportscast. Sometimes, I would be running late getting ready for school so I could hear Gary LaPierre hand off to Gil for the updates on games from the night before. And to have worked at WBZ for a period of time and then meet Gil in 2016 meant a lot. He could not have been a nicer man, and even complimented my work on the air which was a very high honor.

The WBZ newsroom lost a booming voice – as well as Gil’s legendary typewriter that he used until the day he retired from the station in January 2009. Many of my former colleagues often had stories about Gil. After talking with one of the news editors about his working experience with Gil, he said “Go get ’em today Sarge, and hold down Gil’s chair.”

Former Patriots radio play-by-play man Gil Santos (1938-2018) sits at his old desk at WBZ-AM in Boston. (Photo Credit: Dave Goldstein/WBZ)

Former Patriots radio play-by-play man Gil Santos (1938-2018) sits at his old desk at WBZ-AM in Boston. (Photo Credit: Dave Goldstein/WBZ)

Gil died on his 80th birthday and 57th wedding anniversary. Fittingly enough, this all happened on April 19 – the official commemoration of Patriots Day. Gil may be gone, but his unmistakable voice will live on forever. He’s one of the very few non-players or coaches who will go down as a true Patriot.

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