Medicine Hat broadcaster calls 4,000th game for same team

Western Hockey League broadcaster Bob Ridley marked a career milestone Saturday, calling his 4,000th game for the Medicine Hat Tigers.

Ridley has been the voice of the team broadcasts since the Tigers’ first game, Oct. 15, 1970, and he’s called every game since, but one.

“Those 50 years and 4,000 games went by real quick, so I guess I might have enjoyed what I was doing,” said Ridley on the Calgary Eyeopener.

Saturday’s game at Co-op Place resulted in a Tigers win, 7-2, against the Red Deer Rebels in the 2020-21 home opener.

LISTEN to Ridley’s famous voice here:

Calgary Eyeopener6:22WHL broadcaster calls 4000th game

We speak with the voice of the Medicine Hat Tigers, Bob Ridley, who called his 4000th WHL game this past weekend. 6:22

He said that despite the building being empty save the players, it was a “marvellous evening” of tribute from team staff and players.

However, the looming achievement was a bit of a distraction.

“I’m kind of glad that milestone has come and gone and I can move on with other things,” he said.

He was originally set to call his milestone game in March 2020, but the pandemic put a pause on that until the team returned to action last month with a shortened season.

For 50 seasons, Ridley has done play-by-play for the games; and for 45 seasons, he’s also driven the team bus.

“That’s one way I got to meet and know the players real well,” he said. “As a result of it, I became very, very good friends with most of them.”

Many NHL stars got their start with the Tigers, including Lanny McDonald, Kelly Hrudey, Rob Niedermayer, Trevor Linden, Tom Lysiak and Bryan McCabe.

Bob Ridley was honoured by the team and staff on Saturday at Medicine Hat’s Co-op Place. (Medicine Hat Tigers)

Career in review

Ridley, originally from Vulcan, Alta., began broadcasting on the radio on weekends in Drumheller while studying at Mount Royal College in Calgary.

He went on to do more radio gigs, and started to call play-by-play for a baseball team in Swift Current, Sask. After moving to Medicine Hat in 1968, he began broadcasting senior hockey.

In 1969, the Medicine Hat hockey rink, called Arena Gardens, burned to the ground, but it was replaced a year later with the Medicine Hat Arena.

That same year, 1970, the Tigers entered the league as a franchise and Ridley began calling their games.

The one game he missed came in 1972, when he was assigned to cover the women’s national curling championship in Saskatoon.

The game has changed since those early days, says Ridley, who has seen three generations of athletes play, in some cases.

“It’s so fast now and it seems to change about every three or four years … it’s so quick now. And speed and scale is what it’s all about,” he said.

“That’s what keeps me going, watching these young kids develop and move on and more kids coming up through the ranks.”

Last week, the WHL announced a new award, the Bob Ridley Award for Media Excellence, which will be awarded annually in his honour. He was the first recipient of the award, among many in his career.

He says he’s not fussed about hitting any other major milestone but rather will be “just taking it one game at a time.”

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.

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