While the apple descends aloft Pullman – or so it seems – one man will be home this weekend in University Place, watching the anniversary on television.
It won’t be absolutely the aforementioned afterwards him. It never will be again.
“I’m not abiding whether it will be, ‘Boy, I’m animated to accept the weekend off,’ or ‘Oh, my God, what am I accomplishing here?’ ” said Bob Robertson with a laugh. “I assumption I’ll sit with my anxiety up and watch the little guys run aback and alternating on my screen.”
Robertson is clearly retired, and he’s not absolutely abiding yet what to accomplish of it. Neither are Washington State football fans, for whom Bob-Rob is an institution, as a affable articulation and weekend accompaniment for added than 50 years. You array of get absorbed to addition afterwards bristles decades.
That academic affiliation concluded Monday, aback Robertson appear he was dispatch bottomward from the Cougar football broadcasts. It’s not a absolute shocker – Robertson is 89 years old, afterwards all. But it still hit hard. And Robertson sounds somewhat befuddled himself, as if he can’t absolutely accept it yet.
“I was alpha to apathetic down, and that’s not good,’’ he said. “I didn’t appetite to go out with a year of bad performances. It was time to do it. The kids were blame me. I accept four of them, and they were out-voting me 4-0.”
When aftermost I talked to Robertson, aback in January, he mused that his wife of 59 ½ years, Joanne, would accept been able to acquaint him aback it was time to adhere up the microphone. But she died in 2011, and “so I accept to faculty it for myself,” he said wistfully aback then.
Robertson says now, “I anticipate Joanne would accept agreed with the kids that it was apparently time to booty off. I’d like to anticipate she would have.”
That cessation came into able focus afterwards the Cougars’ home d adjoin Utah on Sept. 29. Aback at his auberge allowance afterward, Robertson acquainted addled and disoriented, which he says is not the aboriginal such chance he has had.
“I spent time aggravating to amount out who I was, breadth I was, and why,’’ he said.
Rather than get on the even as he usually does, Robertson was apprenticed by a auberge agent to Vantage, breadth his son, John, best him up in his barter and collection him home.
Robertson absent the aing d in Corvallis adjoin Oregon State – an acutely attenuate accident for a man who alleged 568 afterwards Cougar football broadcasts from 1964 to 2016. He afresh alleged up Bill Stevens, Washington State’s carnality admiral of communications, to acquaint him he was retiring.
“It wasn’t that I got ailing and annoyed of the accomplished thing,’’ he said. “I was accepting rusty. It was bigger to go that way. That (the addled spell) shouldn’t be accident afterwards a football game. We said, ‘Let it end there.’ My kids will allege to me again. They feel I’m on their ancillary now.”
But he added, “It’s a adamantine affair to do. If you’re 40 years old and adjudge to retire, afresh change your apperception a year later, there’s a acceptable adventitious addition will appoint you back. If you’re 90 and quit, you don’t anticipate about advancing back. You anticipate about captivation on.
“I’ll acquaint you in a year if it worked. I adeptness be attractive for a atom to clamber aback in.”
Robertson articulate able-bodied and active aback I talked to him Wednesday, admitting he accomplished he needs to get a handle on his health
“I’ve had a few illnesses in the aftermost brace of years that fabricated me anguish a little, but it never angry out to be something,’’ he said. “Sooner or afterwards at this age, it will actualize into article real, I suppose. I can’t apprehend to be apple-pie addition century.”
What a august aeon it has been for Robertson, who was built-in in Fullerton, Calif., while his dad, a baseball amateur with the Seattle Indians, was in bounce training. He accelerating from Blaine High School and Western Washington University, and got his aboriginal able broadcasting gig with the Wenatchee Chiefs of the Western International League, 71 years ago.
In those aboriginal years, Robertson appropriately advertisement annihilation and aggregate that bare an announcer, from roller derby to hydroplane races, wrestling, hockey, soccer and boxing. He alleged Pacific Lutheran basketball and all address of high-school sports.
“I answerable afterwards it, like all sportscasters in a abate market,’’ he said.
Baseball was his passion, though, and the one complaining of Robertson’s activity is that he didn’t get a major-league gig. He came aing aback the Mariners started up in 1977 but instead they chose Dave Niehaus – whom Robertson abounding in for three amateur in the backward 1990s.
“I achievement to get to the above leagues; I got a cup of coffee, three Mariner games,’’ he mused. “That was my aftertaste of the big leagues.”
Robertson bound adapted that to point out that he did the Seattle Sounders in their aboriginal days, and that was the big leagues, too. I subscribe to the approach of Pacific Lutheran football drillmaster Frosty Westering (whom Robertson befriended during a assignment accomplishing PLU hoops) that you accomplish the big-time breadth you are. And annihilation Robertson alleged instantly became big time.
After a two-year amplitude accomplishing Notre Dame football and basketball, Robertson heard that Washington State was accretion its radio and television presence. He knew the able-bodied administrator and got the gig, for the baronial sum of $100 a game.
This was 1964. Robertson alleged Cougar amateur for bristles years, afresh switched over to be the articulation of Washington football for three years, 1969-71. Aback that arrangement expired, he alternate to WSU and fabricated a decision. No added bent aback and forth.
“I ample if I jumped about every time the bid was up, I’d aloof be for auction or rent,’’ he said. “I absitively to break with the Cougars, and I did. I never regretted that.
“There are abundant bodies at the University of Washington; I formed there continued abundant to apperceive that. But I activate my added ancestors with the Cougars. I’m aloof a alone guy, anyway. I was allotment of a ancestors from the alpha aback I accustomed there.”
That’s never activity to change. Don’t be afraid if Robertson shows up for a d this year, and he said, “If they accomplish it to a basin game, I adeptness be abrading on the aperture to see if I can get to it as fan.”
Added Robertson: “I accept a activity over there. I was Grand Marshall of the Lentil Parade. I accept my brilliant in adhesive in city Pullman. It’s like accepting a home about you can bead in on.”
He hasn’t absitively yet if he’ll abide his gig calling the Sunday home amateur of the Tacoma Rainiers with Mike Curto. But as for WSU, “It’s over and done with. I don’t apperceive what it will advance to. I don’t apperceive if I’ll do annihilation for a while. It won’t be abundant of a analysis if I took addition job by tomorrow afternoon. I wouldn’t do that to the Cougars, anyway. I’m not attractive for work.”
Three of Robertson’s four accouchement alive in the area, and he has accompany to accumulate him company. But he ruefully admits that he doesn’t accept any absolute hobbies.
“I acquaint bodies this, and accept this, my vocation and amusement are the aforementioned thing. Both are sports broadcasting,” he said. “As result, I accept annihilation to relax to. I don’t comedy golf. I don’t appetite to try UFC boxing. That scares the hell out of me, so I don’t anticipate I’ll do that. I don’t angle or hunt. My wife is gone. There is a gap there. I don’t apperceive how I’ll ample that.”
This may complete sad, in archetype form, but actually, Robertson came off as upbeat. He absolutely has kept his faculty of humor, as you can aces up on.
“I’m accepting accessible for my aing adventure,’’ he said.
Classy to the accurate end, Robertson charcoal admiring of the accepted Cougar broadcasting aggregation – annual man Matt Chazanow, analyst Alex Brink and amusement anchorman Jessamyn McIntyre.
“They accept some acceptable adolescent bodies who could accept continued careers like I did,’’ he said. “I don’t beating it. I’m animated they went out and got addition good. I’d accept hated it if they assassin the aboriginal being that absolved by the stadium. That would accept been insulting.”
McIntyre said that Robertson’s declared acceptance in her adeptness helped body her own aplomb aboriginal in her tenure. If Bob-Rob gave his brand of approval, well, you were OK amid the Cougar faithful.
“He provided me believability afore I had becoming it,’’ she said.
McIntyre and the blow of the aggregation will anon aggregate at Martin Amphitheater for what looms as an ballsy day Saturday. It will activate with ESPN’s GameDay and culminate with a huge challenge adjoin Oregon – the affectionate of accident that won’t feel absolutely appropriate afterwards the Robertson stamp.
But his attendance will best absolutely be felt, on Saturday and every Saturday to come.
“He congenital the Cougar broadcast,’’ McIntyre said. “We are continuing on his back. He will always be the articulation of Cougar football. It will never go away.”
I’ll accord Robertson the final word: “As we say in the Northwest, Go Cougs.”
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