What does a sports announcer do when there are no sports? Offer his services to voice videos and deliver smiles to all of us cooped up at home.
Dan Hoard, radio voice of the Cincinnati Bengals and University of Cincinnati basketball and football, has been adding his play-by-play talents to videos sent to him on Twitter with the hashtag #HoardMakesTheCall. He also accepts videos on Facebook and Instagram.
So instead of watching the NCAA basketball tournament last weekend, he called Grady Thrash's buzzer-beater for the Lakota Shock fourth-graders.
It's the debut of #HoardMakesTheCall. Here's Grady Thrash's game-winner for the 4th grade Lakota Shock. (Thank you @Thrash04)
And keep sending videos. I'll reach out and get the details. pic.twitter.com/XoBziSOWb9
— Dan Hoard (@Dan_Hoard) March 31, 2020
"The game is tied. Grady Thrash with a scoop to the hoop at the buzzer! An incredible finish as Lakota beats Hamilton! Teammates are mobbing Thrash… A fourth-grade classic here at the YMCA! It's why we love sports!"
And why we love Dan Hoard, three-time Ohio Sportscaster of the Year (2014, 2017, 2019).
"I wanted to do something a little different in hopes of bringing a smile to people's faces and decided I would do custom-made play-by-play," says Hoard, who also has returned to hosting Sunday afternoon Sports Talk on WLW-AM 3-6 p.m. since the Reds aren't playing.
"Send me a video on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram of your child's big moment in youth sports, a family backyard football game - just about anything, really."
Just about anything includes 4-year-old Evie Mayleben's cycling feat: "History is being made as 4 year old Evie Mayleben powers her Frozen edition Huffy without training wheels for the first time!!"
It's today's edition of "HoardMakesTheCall" as 4-year-old Evie Mayleben makes cycling history with her sister Mary and brother Gus looking on (thanks @Kevin_Mayleben). Send me your videos on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. I'll reach out and get the details pic.twitter.com/1XiGnrVpWx
— Dan Hoard (@Dan_Hoard) April 2, 2020
Or Mike Wadell, former University of Cincinnati senior associate athletic director (2006-2010), doing a belly smacker into his Orlando backyard pool, which Hoard called "a spectacular diving center."
When I moved to Boston for five years, @WadSport made it possible for me to remain the Voice of the #Bearcats. The least I could do was feature his diving excellence in today's episode of #HoardMakesTheCall.
Keep sending me your videos. I'll reach out for the details. pic.twitter.com/oiXE570KzG
— Dan Hoard (@Dan_Hoard) April 3, 2020
"Mike Waddell will attempt to stake his claim as he greatest platform diver in U.S. history. Waddell, thankfully choosing not to wear a Speedo, as he launches his 240 pounds from a patio chair. He's chosen a dive with a high degree of difficulty, a belly flop with a face plant… That splash was like a tsunami!"
(Wadell, founder of Brentwood Partners in Orlando, Fla., and president of the Allen Americans ECHL hockey team in Allen, Texas, is an old friend. He made it possible for Hoard to keep his Bearcats' radio job when Hoard quit WXIX-TV, moved to Boston for five years (2006-2011) and called Pawtucket Red Sox minor league baseball games.)
People have sent Hoard everything from softball triple plays, game-winning soccer goals and backyard basketball games to toddlers playing with their toys and a marriage proposal in the end zone of empty Paul Brown Stadium.
Hoard admits his coronavirus concept wasn't novel. He was inspired by two fellow broadcasters.
"Josh Lewin, the voice of UCLA football and basketball, started doing #PlayByPlayOfAnythingAtAll. He describes himself taking dishes out of the dishwasher, a palm tree swaying in the breeze, etc., with great gusto. You can find his videos on YouTube by searching for PlayByPlayOfAnythingAtAll.
"Jason Benetti, the TV voice of the Chicago White Sox, simply started reading email from people and it's wonderful. Some will make you laugh, others will make you cry. His Twitter handle is @JasonBenetti."
For his Sunday WLW-AM shows, Hoard makes it clear that he borrowed the idea for "Ten Teammates In A Hat," my favorite segment. Before interviewing a baseball guest, Hoard researches all the teams from the player's past and puts the names of his former teammates – from Hall of Famers to flakes – on pieces of paper in a hat. As each name is pulled, the player tells a story about that person.
Until COVID-19, Hoard was prepping for "the most fun part of my year," calling the Bearcats' AAC basketball tournament and ideally UC's games in the NCAA tournament. But he knows his personal disappointment is nothing compared to the athletes whose seasons were cut short, or the pandemic challenges faced by doctors, nurses, hospital staffers, nursing homes, first responders, and infected patients, families and their loved ones.
"My job is fun. I love it. But in the grand scheme of things it's pretty meaningless. I'm so grateful to the people who are doing the important work right now -- to feed us, to treat us medically, and deliver things to people. They are unbelievably valuable in our society and courageous right now," Hoard said in a Twitter video last week.
With no Reds games, and no UC spring football, Hoard has plenty of spare time while preparing for the NFL draft April 23-25. So he'll keep making the epic calls from his home office.
"I will try to pick one out every day, reach out to the person to get as many details as possible, and hopefully give that person a keepsake -- and everybody else a smile," Hoard says.