Thanks for the memories, Mick: Hubert retiring after 33 years and about 2,500 UF games
Mick Hubert’s phone might have overloaded Gainesville’s entire cellular network Thursday. Everybody who was anybody at Florida the past 30 years was calling or texting.
They’d just heard the news. The Voice of the Gators is walking away from the microphone.
“This is my 15 minutes of fame right here,” Hubert told his wife, Judi. “Next Thursday after we move to Sarasota, I’ll be a vapor. People won’t remember me.”
They will if they’ve turned on a radio the past 33 years to hear a Gator game. It was Hubert who described Emmitt Smith’s final college run, Joakim Noah’s first college rebound, Florida’s first national championship, Florida’s second national championship. On and on we could go.
It’d be impossible to track all the scenes Hubert described over 419 football games, 1,061 men’s basketball games and 1,027 baseball games. Hubert was the only voice the luckiest generation of Florida fans has ever known.
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Time for Mick Hubert to start a new season in life
Those people probably thought Hubert would talk forever. Until a couple of years ago, he did too.
“I envisioned doing this until I was 80,” said Hubert, who’s 68. “I get paid to call great games. I get great seats. Why not do it?”
There’s no distinct reason. Hubert’s eyes are still sharp and his voice can still boom. But he’s a man of faith. And like the good book says, for everything there is a season.
“I prayed a lot about it,” Hubert said. “I just really heard God’s voice, not an audible voice, but an inner voice that resonated in my heart.”
It told him it’s time to start a new season in his life, down in Sarasota where he’s built a new house. Oh, my. Gator fans will just have to adjust to life without Mick.
Or was it Mark? Or Mitch? Or (pardon the expression) “You Suck!”
Hubert heard that last one driving home from his first game as UF’s play-by-play announcer. Ole Miss had beaten the Gators at home, and fans were venting on the postgame show.
The first caller ripped Galen Hall, the defense and just about everything else. The next caller said, “I second what that guy said, and I’ll add one. The new announcer sucked, too.”
Hubert’s old colleagues at the Dayton, Ohio, TV station he’d left must have been snickering. They’d told him he was crazy to leave a top-50 market for little old Gainesville.
“I’m not going to work for one radio station,” he told them. “I’m going to work for 50 stations all over the network. Going to the Gators in 1989 was like going to the New York Yankees.”
It was like going to the Yankees in 1919, just before Babe Ruth arrived. Hubert got here just as the Spurrier Era was dawning. Lon Kruger revitalized basketball. UF baseball was good and getting better.
Then came Billy Donovan, Urban Meyer and Kevin O’Sullivan. If a painter is only as good as what’s in front of him, Hubert had some exquisite subjects.
But great announcers don’t need games to be good for them to be good. They need style and preparation. Hubert would study film, build charts and immerse himself in knowledge all week.
“Come Saturday, I’m all schooled up,” he said. “I can enjoy the game.”
That call for the 1993 Kentucky game
Hubert learned early on he needed a catchphrase. A friend in California sent him tapes of broadcasters, including Dick Enberg.
Hubert heard Enberg’s, “Oh, My!” and decided to make it his own. Enberg didn’t mind.
He ran into Steve Spurrier at a golf tournament once, and Spurrier told him UF’s announcer had adopted his phrase.
“Well, you tell your guy that I stole it from a guy in the 1940s,” Enberg said.
There were thousands of “Oh, My’s” over the years, though it wasn’t part of Hubert’s most famous call. You guessed it. Sept. 11th, 1993. A Saturday night in Lexington against a team Florida hadn’t lost to since man learned to walk.
Hubert jokes that when he first got to UF, a lot of people couldn’t quite remember his name. They called him Mike or Mark or Mitch.
Then Wuerffel hit Chris Doering for a 28-yard touchdown with three seconds left.
“DOERING'S GOT A TOUCHDOWN! DOERING'S GOT A TOUCHDOWN! OHHHH MY! DOERING'S GOT A TOUCHDOWN! THE GATORS HAVE TAKEN THE LEAD! UNBELIEVABLE! CHRIS DOERING'S GOT A TOUCHDOWN!"
Hubert perfectly channeled the shock and joy of every Florida fan. After that one, everybody knew his name. Nobody called in afterward and said the new guy sucked.
It’s hard to believe that was 29 years ago. In all that time, Hubert never missed a football game. The only basketball games he missed were due to football conflicts.
Whether he was calling the national championship game at the Superdome or a February baseball game in front of 1,381 fans, Hubert came prepared for any “Oh, My” Moments. They became Mick's Moments.
Now they are almost over. When Saturday’s UF-South Carolina game ends, the Voice of the Gators for the past 33 years will fade away.
Thanks for the memories, Mick. They’ll last a lot longer than 15 minutes.
David Whitley is The Gainesville Sun's sports columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidEWhitley