The Medicine Hat Tigers have only had one voice calling its WHL games on the radio.
Up until recently, that same man was also getting the team safely between destinations.
Bob Ridley is one-of-a-kind.
“Play-by-play came first,” said the 76-year-old broadcaster and bus driver. “They were chartering this old bus company and the bus wasn’t all that good so they decided to buy one. They bought a bus from Greyhound and it already had two-and-a-half million miles on it.
“So consequently they bought the bus, but they didn’t have a driver.”
He said he’d help them out, but it just became the routine. So Ridley spent over four decades calling games, and then hopping in to the driver’s seat and navigating through the night either home or to the next destination.
“When you’re doing the play-by-play you’re all excited,” said Ridley. “By the time you come down…you’re home, just about.
“Here in Medicine Hat we’re kind of in the middle of the league… Calgary and back you’re looking at a three-hour trip, Lethbridge only two hours, Swift Current only a couple of hours. It wasn’t nearly as bad as what a lot of people think.”
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But there are always the trips out to B.C., as well as the United States every second year.
“That becomes kinda long,” admits Ridley. “We were able to find a way to get it done and the people I was working with, the coaches and so on, they’d let me stop for a cup of coffee at Timmies periodically, which was a good thing.”
Ridley has been a passenger on the bus for the last few years; a deserving promotion for a man now in his mid-70’s.
But even after 50 years, he still loves the broadcasts and junior hockey. With the abrupt end to this last season due to COVID-19, he was left just two shy of his goal to reach 4,000 games called. But with that said, it wasn’t a milestone to wrap up a career.
“I thought, I wanna get to that goal of 4,000 and then maybe I’ll do it one more year,” said Ridley. “Who knows, maybe two more years? You never know, depends upon your health. I’m just taking it one year at a time. I still enjoy the game, I enjoy the people and I want to continue if I can.”