D'Ambrosio will be missed as UConn's play-by-play man

Published on Thursday, 31 May 2018 19:37
Written by Matt Buckler

Journal Inquirer

On a day when UConn women’s basketball announcer Bob Joyce said he’ll continue as voice of the team next season, UConn’s other basketball voice, Joe D’Ambrosio had some different news.

D’Ambrosio, who has called UConn men’s basketball and football for the past 26 years on WTIC-AM1080, tweeted Wednesday that he’ll no longer be calling UConn games.

On Thursday, D’Ambrosio started a new job - delivering sports reports on WTIC’s Ray Dunaway’s morning program.

There’s an obvious reason that D’Ambrosio is being replaced on UConn games - WTIC no longer has the rights to UConn athletics. Starting with the football season, UConn football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball and hockey will be headed to iHeart Media station WUCS-FM97.9 as part of a 10-year contract.

On Wednesday, Joyce announced he will be leaving WTIC to take a job with iHeart, where he will continue to call the women’s games. D’Ambrosio, meanwhile, is staying at WTIC, which means he no longer has any games to call.

In a perfect world, D’Ambrosio should have been allowed to continue to call the games until he decided to exit. He earned that right after 26 years.

Fans, who are used to D’Ambrosio’s knowledge and his passion, might be in for a shock, especially when the basketball season starts.

The new announcer, no matter how talented that person is, won’t have D’Ambrosio’s encyclopedic knowledge of UConn basketball history. D’Ambrosio knows that Dom Perno stole the ball from Bill Bradley, who the “Poughkeepsie Popper” was, that it was Tate George who made “the shot” and it was Khalid El-Amin who shocked the world. That knowledge is tough to duplicate.

His UConn knowledge, however, was only part of it. D’Ambrosio was able to get listeners emotionally involved in the game. When UConn played poorly, D’Ambrosio made sure the listeners knew it. And when the team played great, D’Ambrosio could work those same listeners into a frenzy.

Even though all the games are televised, D’Ambrosio, and his partner Wayne Norman, were the announcers that fans associated with UConn basketball.

Sometimes corporate suits misjudge the bond that local announcers have with their team. When the Detroit Tigers got rid of the legendary Ernie Harwell, for example, there was a fan revolt that the team’s management wasn’t expecting. The Tigers had to bring Harwell back.

A fan revolt is unlikely in this situation, but many UConn fans will be disappointed. When you’ve listened to someone for 26 years, it’s difficult to say good bye.

D’Ambrosio will flourish in the morning sports role. His quick, fast-paced delivery is suited for morning radio. So is his sense of humor - be will be a big asset to the WTIC morning show.

But he also was an asset to UConn basketball fans.

There will be another announcer who will be broadcasting UConn men’s games this winter. It will be a long time, however, before there’s another voice of the Huskies. That’s a title that has to be earned, just like D’Ambrosio did for 26 years.

Posted in New Britain Herald, UConn on Thursday, 31 May 2018 19:37. Updated: Thursday, 31 May 2018 19:40.