Joe Tait has been the sound track of Cleveland sports for the past four decades. This year marks the 36th season he has called Cavaliers basketball, but Tait's broadcasting legacy extends beyond the hardwood. He called Indians baseball for 16 seasons (1972-87), the WNBA's Cleveland Rockers for seven years (1997-2003) as well as four seasons of hockey (the Cleveland Barons and the Cleveland Crusaders). In addition to his present duties with the Cavs, the 70-year-old Tait broadcasts Mount Union football and local high school basketball. Below, Tait offers his reflections on a life behind the mike in Cleveland.
THE MOST INDELIBLE TRAIT OF CLEVELAND FANS IS suffering. If you're a fan here, you have experienced the whole litany: the Drive. The Fumble. The Shot. Now we even have the Collapse, against the Red Sox. I came to the city in 1970, and I've learned that Cleveland fans are extremely loyal. They get very frustrated, but they hang in there. When LeBron James wore a Yankees cap during the American League playoffs, it engendered so much more flak for him than he ever could have anticipated. Why? Because it flies right into the heart of how Cleveland fans feel about their teams. They were offended.
The toughest loss for me? Well, I was there. The Shot. Michael Jordan drilled the Cavaliers in Game 5 in a year  in which I thought we would win it all. I just remember it was up, it was in, and it was over. Then just stunned silence. The bottom dropped out. I just said on the air: "And it's over."
Whenever the finish of my career comes, I will be proud that I stayed with one city. Even the two years I left the Cavs [ Tait called Nets games in 1981-82 and the Bulls the following season], I was still here as the voice of the Indians. I never lost my connection to Cleveland. I'm coming up on calling 3,000 Cavs games, and the greatest compliment I've ever been paid is when someone who is sightless tells me that they see the games through my play-by-play. Gordon Gund, who was owner of the Cavs for 22 years and who is blind, told me more than once: You are my eyes.
The most memorable game I ever called was the four-overtime win (154-153) over the Lakers on Jan. 29, 1980. It ended up with 6'8" Bill Willoughby guarding Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the fourth overtime, and we still managed to win the ball game. The Miracle of Richfield season in 1976 was fabulous because it was a bunch of hardworking guys. I'm convinced that if Jim Chones does not break his foot before the conference finals, we win it all.
With the Indians I've broadcast three no-hitters. The first one is still my favorite. It happened on July 19, 1974, when Dick Bosman no-hit the A's. I remember after the game, Oakland's Bill North was asked by some writers, "How does it felt to be no-hit?" He said, "It's just like losing 10-9." The next day catcher John Ellis singled in the ninth inning, and the Indians beat the A's 10-9! I also called Frank Robinson's first game as a player-manager in '75 when he hit a home run off the Yankees' Doc Medich in his first at bat. The stadium was jammed to the rafters—old Cleveland Stadium only looked good when every seat was filled. When Frank tagged that one, it was a thrill.
I think people here are convinced that LeBron will lead the Cavaliers to an NBA championship. If a Cleveland team ever wins a sports title, which hasn't happened since 1964, I don't think you will see cars burning or shops looted or things of that nature. I think you will just have people swept away in absolute euphoria that they finally have arrived.