The ACC and Duke University lose one of the All-Time Greats: Duke basketball and football play-by-play man(41 years) Bob Harris gone at age of 81[Harris retired as the longest-tenured play-by-play announcer in the history of the ACC/”How Sweet It Is”]

Duke Athletics Hall of Fame Member Bob Harris Passes Away
What can’t you say about this guy…I heard him for the first time on WPCM 101.1 FM radio, out of Burlington, N.C. and he was announcing the Duke Blue Devils basketball games…Bob Harris and Mike Waters were the broadcast team calling those game back then…Bob had several others join him in the booth over the years, but I can tell you this right here, right then, and right now, there was never, and I do say never a better broadcast team, than Bob Harris and Wes Chesson doing/broadcasting Duke Blue Devils football over the radio all those years…They were the best team in the history of the ACC if you ask me, and I am an N.C. State man, as was a student at N.C. State back in 1960, named Bob Harris…But, Bob and Wes Chesson were the best broadcast team ever, in the ACC for football, for sure….
(Do remember Bob Harris also working with a man named Danny Highsmith, on the early Duke Blue Devil basketball games, and Highsmith was from WFNC, in Fayetteville, N.C.)

Bob’s favorite saying after a Duke Blue Devil victory was, “How Sweet It Is”…I met Bob Harris at the funeral of Jim Pritchett, local sports radio guy, and that funeral was back around 2001…Was able to have and interview Bob Harris several times over the years on sports talk shows, and the man Bob Harris loved his golf, and he hit life in a big way…Very successful, and the success would be attributed to all those days he spent calling Duke Blue Devils ball games over on the flagship station for Duke sports, 620AM WDNC…

A true class act, that is what I will always remember about Bob Harris…In his early days of radio, Bob will do the morning sports reports on WDNC radio, then go out and sell advertising during the day, and then announce/call the Duke football and basketball games at night and on the weekends…A full-time job, I guess so, and you are full of bull hockey if you think Bob Harris wasn’t busting his tail/butt out there every day from sun up, till sundown and beyond…Bob Harris was a machine, and a working fiend…

He and the now-deceased North Carolina Tar Heel Hall of Fame football and basketball announcer Woody Durham, both came from the same hometown, of Albemarle, N.C. Woody and Bob doing their job, together in ACC…Heard Bob calling those games many times over the years on 620 WDNC, on WPCM 101.1 FM, on 98.3 WTHP over in Thomasville, and in more recent years, on 600 WSJS and their FM 92.7, out of Winston-Salem, N.C. Don’t listen to Duke much any more, since Bob left, and as you can imagine, the loss of Woody Durham and Bob Harris left a very big void in college football play-by-play on the radio, in North Carolina…

I read recently a comment from a rep from Learfield Sports, and this was just after Gary Hahn stepped down as the long-time play-by-play man for N.C. State after 25 years-plus, and the Learfield rep said it is not that urgent to find a replacement for Gary Hahn, since the radio broadcasts are not as important as they used to be…Now have more digital platforms that are our top priority…The new streamings, the video, the Twitter accounts and MORE…

But, I can tell you this…Without men like Bob Harris, the memories we have today would not exist…There would be none…Bob Harris, Woody Durham, Wally Ausley, Gene Overby, those men gave us the College football and basketball “Soundtracks of our Lives”…And I must say this on behalf of Bob Harris today, “How Sweet It Was”/”How Sweet It Is”……….

RIP/Rest in Peace Mr. Bob Harris, and thank-you again, for the Memories…..

Little more background history on Bob Harris from my research at Wikipedia University:
Beginning in 1960, Harris attended North Carolina State University for two years before leaving college to work for Goodyear. He later returned to his hometown for a job selling insurance, where he began working part-time for WZKY, in 1967. Harris volunteered to provide coverage of local football for the station, which led to him being hired as a full-time sports announcer, as well as sports director for eight years.

In 1975, Harris and his family relocated to Durham where Harris had been offered a sales job on WDNC. A week later, he was hosting a sports talk show. Eventually, he served as color commentator to then-Duke sportcaster, Add Penfield, broadcasting Duke football and basketball games. When Penfield experienced health problems, Harris filled in. Penfield retired in the spring of 1976, opening the door for Harris to become the “Voice of the Blue Devils” beginning with the 1976 football season.

Nationally, Harris was best known for his play-by-play of Christian Laettner’s buzzer beater in Duke’s victory over the University of Kentucky in the 1992 East Regional of the NCAA basketball tournament. ESPN considers the 1992 East Regional Final in Philadelphia the “greatest college basketball game ever” played. Harris’ description of “The Shot” from the radio broadcast is most often featured with the archival video footage, replacing that of the original television commentators:

They throw it the length of the floor… Laettner catches, comes down, dribbles.. Shoots. Scores! … Christian Laettner has hit the bucket at the buzzer! The Blue Devils win it 104 to 103. Look out Minneapolis! Here come the Blue Devils!

In December 2010, Harris published his autobiography, “How Sweet It Is!: From the Cotton Mill to the Crows’ Nest”, recounting his storied career as the “Voice of the Blue Devils”. He has been courtside to witness all five of Duke’s National Championship wins. Included with the book is an 80-minute CD that features some of Harris’ interviews, including Muhammad Ali and Red Skelton, along with famous radio calls like “The Shot”.

DURHAM, N.C.Duke Athletics Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Harris passed away on Wednesday at the age of 81.

Harris served 41 years as the radio play-by-play broadcaster for Duke football and men’s basketball before retiring in 2017.

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Bob Harris,” said Duke Vice President & Director of Athletics Nina King. “We send our heartfelt condolences to Phyllis and the entire Harris family. Duke, the Atlantic Coast Conference and the entire collegiate athletics community has lost a true icon. For over four decades, Bob represented Duke with the utmost professionalism while delivering to our fans worldwide an acute account of Blue Devil football and men’s basketball games. He will be greatly missed, but his legacy will live forever.”

A three-time recipient of the North Carolina Broadcaster of the Year honor from the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association in 1988, 1991 and 2011, Harris closed his football broadcasting tenure at Duke having called 471 consecutive games. The streak began on September 11, 1976, with Duke’s season-opener at Tennessee and concluded on November 26, 2016, with the season finale at Miami. He called six postseason bowl games (1989 All American, 1994 Hall of Fame, 2012 Belk, 2013 Chick-fil-A, 2014 Hyundai Sun & 2015 Pinstripe) along with Duke’s appearances in the Coca Cola Bowl against Clemson on November 30, 1991, in Tokyo, Japan, and the Dr Pepper ACC Championship Game versus Florida State on December 7, 2013, in Charlotte, N.C.

Harris broadcast a total of 1,392 Duke basketball games and his tenure with the Blue Devils featured 13 NCAA Final Four events while calling 10 championship games including all five of Duke’s national titles in 1991 (Indianapolis), 1992 (Minneapolis), 2001 (Minneapolis), 2010 (Indianapolis) and 2015 (Indianapolis). Harris also broadcasted 16 ACC Tournament championship game victories for the Blue Devils in 1978, 1980, 1986, 1988, 1992, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2017.

“Duke lost another one of its greatest treasures with the passing of Bob Harris,” said former Duke head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski. “For decades as our radio play-by-play broadcaster, Bob told the story of Duke Athletics better than anyone. He was much more than an announcer to all of us. He was a family member who absolutely loved Duke and everything it stands for. We are so thankful that it was his voice that shared our journey each season with so many Duke fans around the world. He was adored by so many of them. The Krzyzewski family offers our deepest condolences to Phyllis and their loved ones. It was my honor to call Bob my friend.”

A native of Albemarle, N.C., Harris retired as the longest-tenured play-by-play announcer in the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference. He earned enshrinement into the Duke Athletics Hall of Fame (inducted in 2018), North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame (2006) and the Stanly County Sports Hall of Fame (1993). In 2009, Harris was honored with the Atlantic Coast Conference’s prestigious Skeeter Francis Award, an honor presented annually to individuals for distinguished service to the league. In 2016, Harris received The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, an honor conferred by the Governor of North Carolina for exemplary service to the State of North Carolina and its communities.

Born August 22, 1942, Harris got his start in broadcasting in 1967 as the Sports Director at WZKY in his hometown, and later served as the Sports Director at WDNC in Durham from 1975-97. He served as the President of the North Carolina Sportscasters Association (1976), President of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (1992) and Honorary Chairman of the North Carolina Beautiful Golf Classic (2010) while also serving as a member of the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame (1996-08) and Board of Directors of Special Olympics North Carolina (2016-19).

In December of 2010, Harris published his autobiography, “How Sweet It Is!: From the Cotton Mill to the Crows’ Nest”.

Over the course of his career, Harris was involved with many charitable organizations including the Add Penfield Regional Consolidated Services Golf Tournament, Agape Corner School, ALS Association (Jim “Catfish” Hunter Chapter), Brad Johnson Celebrity Golf Classic, Brain Injury Association of North Carolina, Brenner Children’s Hospital, Celebrity Waiters Dinner for Leukemia Foundation, Children’s Charities of the Bluegrass, Children’s Miracle Network, Duke Children’s Hospital, Duke University Hospice, Eastern North Carolina Spinabifida Association, Emily K Foundation, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Grande Dunes Make-A-Wish Pro-Am, Hebron Colony Ministries, Juvenile Diabetes Association of North Carolina, March of Dimes, Meet Me At The Bridge Charity, Me Fine Foundation, Mulligans For Kids Golf Tournament, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Nazareth Children’s Home, New Hanover Medical Center, North Carolina Realtors Charity Challenge, North Carolina Vietnam Veterans Association, Oxford Masonic Home for Children, Ronald McDonald House of Durham, South Brunswick Educational Fund, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Triangle United Way, United Way of North Carolina, and The Willie Stargell Foundation.

Harris is survived by his wife of 61 years, Phyllis, along with daughter Bobbi Harris-McCoy, son-in-law, Ron McCoy, and two grandchildren, Tripp and Meredith Winkler.
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