Kingston’s Mr. Sports is calling it a career.
Veteran Global Kingston sports broadcaster Doug Jeffries completes his final broadcast on CKWS News at 6 and 11 on Wednesday after 23 years on television and a previous 23 years on local radio.
Few broadcasters will ever reach that milestone, and Jeffries has set the bar high when it comes to his dedication to the local sports scene.
His lasting impact on the sports community prompted the City of Kingston to declare June 15 as Doug Jeffries Day.
“It was time,” says the humble broadcaster of his decision to retire after 46 years behind the microphone.
Community tributes have been pouring in since Jeffries announced his retirement date over a month ago from co-workers, coaches, athletes, teams and charitable groups and others who praised his unabashed dedication to showcasing local sports, including many that would not typically get any kind of television coverage.
The lengthy list comes from every corner of the sporting world — figure skating, minor hockey, curling, tennis, all types of high school sports to Special Olympics and the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs.
“I know the phrase has been overused but it truly has been a labour of love for me,” Jeffries says.
The local sports icon, who was born and raised in Gananoque, has been to just about every arena, club, track and sports field in southeastern Ontario during his storied career, which dates back to 1976.
His longevity and likeable nature are often compared with Max Jackson, another legendary sportscaster from CKWS Television’s early years.
Jeffries wrote about wanting to be a broadcaster in his 1974 yearbook.
“Doug was a big fan of Max Jackson. We would jokingly call Doug ‘Max’ all the time. That was his nickname. Doug pursued his dream and that’s what he wanted to do,” says Danny O’Hearn, a long-time high school friend.
Pat Sheahan, former head coach of the Queen’s University Gaels football club, says Jeffries played a vital role in publicizing all levels of local sports. And he says Jeffries was always willing to pass on his knowledge to anyone who asked.
“Sports is an important part of the culture as you know and Doug has been the gatekeeper, making sure that people were informed and not just informed, he did it in a very personal and authentic kind of way.”
As a parting tribute to his legacy, Kingston Police and Kingston Fire & Rescue gathered several municipal vehicles outside the Global Kingston studios on Queen Street, along with local sports clubs, to salute his contributions to the community.
The honour procession closed Queen Street for a short time, while Jeffries came out to greet the well-wishers.
The “Pete” Peterson basketball league was one of many activities close to Jeffries’ heart, along with the Special Olympics, including the Shot Rocks curling team.
“Doug did a really good job when he interviewed you. He was genuinely interested in you and generally interested in the sports and a lot of people take that for granted — his passion for the individual, the sports team, the clubs and the city,” says Brett Gibson, coach of the Queen’s varsity hockey team.
“Doug Jeffries has earned the respect of everyone that’s come in contact with him through that 46 years,” adds Roland Billings of the “Pete” Peterson basketball league.
“I grew up in Hamilton, lived in Oakville and Toronto, and I never met anybody who cared as much about local sports as Doug Jeffries,” says Brad Hill, Kingston and District Sports Hall of Famer.
Napanee Raiders general manager Adam Bramburger summed up Jeffries’ tireless love of local sports, where the feeling among players and coaches was mutual.
“There’s probably no bigger supporter, no bigger fan and no bigger promoter.”
Jeffries, who was constantly moved to tears as the tributes flowed in and had to pre-tape his final sportscast to get through it, expressed eternal gratitude as he bid farewell to viewers.
His trademark wave at the end of his nightly sport cast was a tribute to his late father, Lou Jeffries, a legendary local sports figure in his own right.
Jeffries said it was only fitting to choose June 15 for his retirement on would’ve been his father’s birthday.
Many describe Jeffries as an ultimate team player who makes everyone feel like a champion.
Doug, enjoy your retirement. And maybe one day you’ll get that elusive hole in one!