FORT WAYNE – Bob Chase, the Komets’ longtime broadcaster, knew he would be receiving an honor from Mayor Tom Henry.
But he was in the dark as to what would be given to him Thursday morning.
The previous night, He dreamt of a beloved maple tree that is dying in his yard, and in the dream, city employees arrived to install the famed statue of Gen. Mad Anthony Wayne in its place.
Chase’s dream was sort of close.
He was presented the Key to the Fort at the mayor’s office. It is a hand-forged replica of the iron key that was at the fort in the days of Anthony Wayne, circa 1794.
The original key is in the History Center. It was donated there by the family of Civil War-era Mayor Franklin Randall.
Chase, 87, who will begin his 61st season of Komets hockey this year, is just the third person to receive the key since Henry took office in 2008. The others were former City Councilman Charles Redd and Jane Avery of Community Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Indiana.
Nobody hit it on the head what it was (going to be), Chase said. For a local honor, and I’ve had a lot of great honors, this is unreal. This goes right up on the mantle, and I’m just so happy and pleased.
Chase has called nine playoff championships, 12 regular-season championships and more than 4,500 Komets games, to say nothing of the countless other sports and news events he has been a part of with WOWO radio.
It is my privilege to recognize Bob Chase for all that he has done for our great city, Henry said. Bob’s professionalism, character, humility and his love for his family and the Komets are all attributes that make him a unique and special man in our community.
Last year, Chase won the Lester Patrick Award for his contributions to hockey in the United States.
I’m glad I was able to be here to do this, said Chase, surrounded by many friends, former Komets players and co-workers and his wife, Murph. Sometimes you don’t live long enough to accomplish a lot of things. Whether I’ve accomplished them through skill or endurance, I don’t know, but I just appreciate this.
During the ceremony, Chase reminisced about several events from his career, including how he would cover college football games out of state but have to make sure he could get back in time to cover the Komets at night. He’d rip a $20 bill in half and give it to a cab driver, then promise the other half as gratuity if he was there after the game to get him to the airport. Other people couldn’t figure out why the cabbies always waited for Chase and wouldn’t drive them.
And during one Komets game, Chase got so excited he bit his tongue and was bleeding in the press box, forcing him to hand over the microphone to Don Chevillet, who hadn’t done play-by-play before.
It was one of the few times someone other than Chase called any Komets action for WOWO or WKJG.
Chase could have kept the attendees enthralled with his stories all day.
I feel very privileged to have gone through the radio process in the golden days of radio, bar none, he said, fighting back tears.