Sports broadcasters love to recite statistics, so what better way to discuss the career of Hot Rod Hundley than by the numbers?
3,005 — Number of Utah Jazz games Hot Rod has broadcast on the radio (and counting). He is the only remaining employee who was with the team when
it debuted in New Orleans in 1974.
14 — Number of games he has missed in 35 years with the Jazz. The only times he failed to show up for work were the death of his wife and mother
and national game assignments for CBS. He's even worked games when he had the flu.
42 — Number of years Rod Hundley has been doing radio broadcasts of NBA games, counting two years with the Lakers and four years with the Phoenix Suns.
3,915 — Approximate number of regular-season, exhibition and playoff games he has broadcast for the Lakers, Suns and Jazz. This does not count college and other NBA games he did for CBS.
3,915 — Number of scorecards he has filled out. He still keeps his own stats during games, recording personal fouls and points for each player.
1967 — Year that Hot Rod made his radio debut with the Lakers. Also the year Vince Lombardi and the Packers won the first Super Bowl, Muhammad Ali was stripped of his boxing title for refusing induction into the army, Mickey Mantle hit his 500th home run, 100,000 people gathered in Washington to protest Vietnam and Jimi Hendrix burned his guitar on stage.
112 — Number of years he has been on the air for game coverage if you combine all his broadcasts and run them non-stop, around the clock.
39 — Number of years since he smoked his last cigarette. He quit a 16-year habit in 1970 because his throat was chronically raw and sore early in his broadcast career. "I blamed it on cigarettes and I was right," he says. "I quit cold turkey."
15,660 — Number of Sucrets sore throat lozenges he has consumed on the air. In his first year on the job, Hot Rod was often hoarse by halftime. Besides giving up cigarettes, he began sucking on Sucrets. Before each game he lays four of the lozenges on the table — one for each quarter. "I also learned to pace myself," he says. "In the early days, I called the opening tipoff as if they just won the world championship. And, let's face it, 2 1/2
hours a day of running your mouth amounts to exercising your voice. Your vocal cords get stronger."
1 — Number of water bottles he takes to work with him. "I don't like more than one bottle of water because I'm afraid I'll have to go to the bathroom," he says. "I've squirmed a few times right before halftime."
6 — Number of years he played professional basketball after becoming the No. 1 pick of the 1957 NBA draft.
3 — Number of years he sold Converse All-Star basketball shoes before the Lakers invited him to join the legendary Chick Hearn in the broadcast booth. "I wasn't happy selling shoes," he says. "It was boring, and I was traveling alone. I took the broadcasting job, and I've loved it ever since. I
love the NBA game, and I'm getting paid to watch it from the best seat in house — well, until recently."
33 — Number of seasons Hot Rod had a front-row seat at Jazz games. The Jazz moved him to the top of the lower bowl last season. "It's a better view," he says, "but it's harder to be accurate. I can't see immediately who was whistled for the foul, so I wait to be sure. You make mistakes; I hate making mistakes."
48 — Number of years he has been an employee of an NBA team.
1934 — Year he was born.
74 — Current age. He began his career when he was 32.
58 — Number of years he has been playing or broadcasting basketball games, counting junior high school, high school, college and pro.
8 — Number of broadcast partners he has worked with in Salt Lake City whom he could remember on short notice — Frank Layden, Dave Fredman, Dave Blackwell, Carl Arky, Zelmo Beatty, Jim Nance, Craig Bolerjack, Ron Boone.
0 — Number of seasons he plans to work road games after this season. Hot Rod recently told Jazz management that he no longer wants to do road games next season. He recently built a retirement home in Phoenix. He plans to move into the house this summer and commute to Salt Lake City for next year's home games. "I don't want to travel anymore," he said last week from his hotel room in Memphis hours before another game. "The weather's getting worse it seems like every time we go East. "It's gloomy here. It was gloomy in Oklahoma City, too. When the Jazz have a 10-day road trip (next season), I'll go home to Phoenix."
Doug Robinson's column runs on Tuesday. Please send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org