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November 30, 2023

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Alumnus Mike “Doc” Emrick first broadcaster to be inducted to Hockey Hall of Fame

Mike “Doc” Emrick

Anyone who follows hockey and the NHL knows the name Mike “Doc” Emrick, or better yet, know his voice.

Emrick, age 66, has to most American hockey fans become the equal to the voice of the NHL. Though many don’t know that the man everyone calls Doc is an alum of the University or how he picked up his signature nickname.

Emrick grew up not too far from the city, in La Fontaine, Indiana, about 60 miles north of Indianapolis. As a boy, he grew to love sports, especially baseball and hockey. Emrick attended Manchester College in 1968 where he gained his bachelors of science in speech. A year later he earned his masters of arts in radio and television from Miami University, according to Sports Illustrated. However, he received his final degree from right here at the University. Emrick earned his doctorate in Communications in 1976. During his time at the University, Sports Illustrated also said Emrick spent part of his time exploring the history of baseball broadcasting. During that time, he reached out to the Detroit Tigers where he struck up a quick friendship with Tiger’s Hall of Fame play-by-play broadcaster Ernie Harwell, according to Sports Illustrated. Through his time with Harwell, Emrick developed his connections with broadcasters and writers developing his play-by-play abilities.

In 1973, after starting his dissertation, Emrick got his first professional hockey job with the Port Huron Flags, a minor league affiliate for the Detroit Red Wings. Three years later, he finished his thesis and got a job with the Maine Mariners, which is where his nickname got its start. Emrick said it was first started by Mariners president Ed Anderson.

“He knew I had a doctorate from [the University] so he started calling me Doc,” Emrick said in an interview with Sports Illustrated. “It’s not a terribly creative nickname, but it stuck.”

Shortly after his time in Maine, Emrick struck his first NHL job with the newly-founded New Jersey Devils in 1982, according to the Hockey Writers website. He spent six years in New Jersey until he was hired by the Philadelphia Flyers in 1988, where he spent another five years. In 1993, Emrick returned to New Jersey where he stayed until 2011.

During his span of 18 years with the Devils, Emrick held other notable positions as well. Emrick broadcast games for ESPN, ABC, Fox and TNT. In 2005, he was named the head play-by-play announcer for the NHL on Versus and holds it to this day after it was taken over NBC. Outside of hockey, Emrick has broadcasted games for the NFL, NCAA mens’ basketball and even the National Lacrosse League. Over his illustrious career, Emrick has broadcasted 24 consecutive Stanley Cup Playoffs, 13 Stanley Cup Finals and six Olympic Games, according to NBC.

The success and importance of Doc Emrick to not only hockey, but the University as well, cannot be understated. He regularly returns to the Falcon hockey arena where he once called Falcon hockey games, the first time hockey games he was ever paid to do. Kevin Meyers, a senior at the University, holds the same position once filled by Emrick and knows what that means.

“As an aspiring hockey broadcaster, I’ve drawn inspiration from a lot of different broadcasters and Doc is certainly no exception,” Meyers said. “The fact that I can look to someone like him who was once in my position, and is now the voice of the NHL in the United States, says a lot about what the position means and what type of broadcaster this job is capable of producing.”

Alan Marrs, the executive director of the University’s Radio Sports Organization, which provides students the same play-by-play opportunities on campus, also recognizes what the legacy of Emrick means.

“He’s an example,” Marrs said. “[He’s] someone just like us that went to the same university. He has attained one of the most featured positions in broadcasting for his sport and is highly respected by colleagues and fans alike.”

In 2011, he was nominated and won his first Emmy for best play-by-play personality. In that same year, Mike “Doc” Emrick was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame, the first ever broadcaster to be given the honor. Today, he continues to call the most important hockey games for NBC and lives with his longtime wife Joyce just north of Detroit in the small town of St. Claire, Michigan.

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