Pensacola Sports: Past, Present and Future | inStudio | WSRE

This original wsre presentation is made possible by viewers like you thank you Pensacola sports past present and future on this edition of in-studio Have you ever taken a minute to think about what a robust sports scene Pensacola has if not Maybe you should there’s professional hockey professional baseball college football college basketball college baseball women’s college softball short track stock car racing and an impressive array of Amateur sporting events and what about all the world-class athletes that come from the area? They are NFL Hall of Famers MLB Hall of Famers masters and US Open champions Olympic medalist NBA and WNBA players Well, you get the idea on this edition of in-studio. We’re going to look back at Pensacola sports scene We’ll also look ahead and we’ll talk about what’s going on right now our guests work in sports medium or the business of sports in Pensacola bill Valona is one of the southeast most respected and accomplished sports journalists He spent over 30 years covering sports for the Pensacola News Journal and its parent company Gannett He took an early retirement from full-time newspaper work in January of 2019 These days he is senior writer for Blue was calm and continues to contribute to p nj.com Paul chestnut was the original voice of the pensacola ice pilots hockey team his career in Pensacola spans over 20 years Currently he is sports director and host of sports roundtable on WP nn radio 103.7 FM and 790 a.m He keeps his play-by-play kill Skills sharp as voice of the Pensacola ice Flyers hockey team as well as calling many high school football games Ray Palmer is president and chief executive officer of Pensacola sports Which happens to be Florida’s first and oldest Sports Commission Ray has led the charge in ramping up Pensacola sports tourism business through events, like fishing tournaments triathlons collegiate national championships and the recently formed Aluna Beach Games Pensacola sports also produces awards and scholarship banquets Shad brilliant a has been in sports broadcasting for a little over a decade Six of those years have been spent in the Pensacola market along the way chad has worked with the MLB Network and ESP in you Currently he works for ESPN Pensacola 94.5 FM Where he is sports director and hosts sports drive with Chad brilliant a the show was also simulcast on blab Television gentlemen welcome, and thank you. Thank you for having us Bill, let me begin with you. What is it about Pensacola that makes it such a Attractive place for for sporting teams and such an attractive place for athletes to grow up and go on to great success Jeff I think really when you go across the United States, there’s probably not another community Like Pensacola our size that have this amount of phenomenal athletes I mean we could do a rout a Mount Rushmore of athletes and leave somebody off. Who’s world-class when you’re talking about Emmitt Smith Derrick Brooks Don Sutton Roy Jones jr Bubba Watson Justin Gatlin Jerry Pate I mean think of this these are men who have transcended not only Florida but they’ve transcended the United States in their in their Performance and their legacies and not to mention four female athletes, you know, you talk about something like Michelle Snow We just have so many and I just think part of it is this is a close-knit community. I think there’s a real Work ethic that these athletes have all carried may be established through their environment their parents It’s just something about this area that has just produced a drive because you can be a great athlete But these folks have taken it way above to world-class level. We’re blessed. I mean, this is a special place I think in America Frankly with this kind of legacy of athletes and Ray. What is it? You’ve been around for a long time involved in Pensacola sports What is the community support our sports so much? I mean We just see we’ve always seemed thirsty and and and all in all my enlarged been pretty supportive of various teams events amateur events so on so well, I think I think to Bill’s point ought to expand a little bit on Bill’s point is I think the representation not just on the field of play but the way that our Superior athletes have promoted our own community back. You know Roy Jones was famous for his Pensacola in the house

line and In Justin and all those guys talk about Pensacola when they win and they’ve all shown a lot of class We’ve had very few incidences with our professional athletes so I think pentacle that makes you proud it does so I think that’s one of the reasons that the Community is proud to support those guys. Could they? represent us So well Paul you came down from the Northeast quite a few years ago and you were the original Announcer of the Pensacola ice pilots when you first got to this community. What was your impression? Well, first off I I had a taste a little bit after my senior year in high school I spent almost a summer in Pensacola. So when the the hockey was going to come on down here to Pensacola I wanted to be a part of it the team and Nashville believe it or not That was Emily was moving on down here natural these days They got the NHL team and it’s just a city that is just thrive it row now But I I had a feeling I was working with the team in Erie, Pennsylvania Here we went to Baton Rouge. I Knew that it was going to work here because the ECHL When first joined Pensacola, it was going south. It was going to Norfolk Hampton Roads. It was going to South Carolina That was Charleston South Carolina and was a it was booming these these big Crowds were coming on on teller has he was it was a team and then Pensacola got one and it was all of Iten You know Biloxi, Baton Rouge Lafayette New Orleans as well. So, uh, it was it was perfect It was like a college football setting. Yeah that you have, you know with the SEC with all these hockey teams and I knew at that time that Hockey was going to work here and and I threw the dice coming down here is what I did I remember talking and you know, my mom and my grandmother who were alive at that time on I cannot – crying ago What why are you doing this? What do you want what you want to do, you know 30 years old single and saying, you know This is what I want to do. I’ll be back in two weeks I’m still 10 corridor was really created as synergy I mean the instant rivalries for a sport that this part of the world just didn’t know very well but Tell me we don’t want to be mobile. Are you kidding me? I would’ve oh be mobile and everything, right? What were you guys but were you guys surprised at how quickly Pensacola embraced hockey? I mean because you know, we love football around here. That’s a big deal Love baseball too, but the hockey and there had been some attempts at basketball that had not been as successful But I mean wouldn’t the hockey thing BAM it was on fire, you know, Jeff to Paul’s point That there was a lot of concern of whether this was going to work because the basketball as you referenced had failed we had two tornados Raynaud’s Paul remembers that the tornados came in they they didn’t do well that was when and that was when the NBA it wasn’t as large it is as it is now you had Really great players here, but people just didn’t care the hockey team came in and from the get-go They had and Paul knows they they had seven thousand six thousand Mile, one of my all-time memories and Paul worked. This game was a playoff game I was driving down that ramp to the Civic Center base center now People were outside scalping and searching for tickets I thought am I really live in this I mean here in Pensacola people are struggling to get in to a sold-out playoff game and Paul did You know wonderfully some of the most unbelievable Moments in hockey history here and for this sport to have thrived 20 plus years now is really a testament to the community I remember I had a conversation with you Nathan dominance Ryan’s working with you at the time – you guys were a little bit skeptical I’ve seen it this is going to work I remember and this is going to work and I remember going to Biloxi for the first game Bruce Boudreau who I believe right now is a head coach of the Minnesota Wild he was head coach of The Biloxi team Mississippi Siebels, they delayed that game Alright, it was delayed for about half hour 45 minutes. It worked there too. They sold it out They packed it in and I remember walking in meaning Bruce bujji’s dressed in a tuxedo you know there to you know to coach that game and And they delayed him what what I also remember is that we didn’t have her official jerseys We had to wear our practice jerseys. So we lose that game we go to Birmingham the very next day. We lose that game

So the following weekend is opening weekend. We sell out Sold out so we’ve got to we end up winning I could still remember it kid named Jeff Meade game-winning goal two goals in that game. I remember the wave how The fans were just so into it And we beat the telehealth see tiger sharks. I mean everything came and to play that Opening night in that first year that first year The last game of the regular season were playing Baton Rouge Huntington, West Virginia Had to lose we had to win It all worked out were the last team that gets in so we go on and play The I believe that Ella has he tiger sharks. Who were the number one team? We were the last seed a team we ended up sweeping them and I could remember it was like Easter weekend and I can remember You know, it was a Kelly Hawk when still making that The shot I believe it was in and in in overtime and he lives So many amazing so many amazing games we had we have Wayne Gretzky’s brother Brent Gretzky that played on the team You know, Jack Wendell is still you know here very successful. Yeah and doing what he does Yeah, as as an investor, he was the captain of the team for four For three years did not miss a game. Yeah, one of the things in the Pensacola sports elephant Yeah, absolutely, you know a couple of quick stories was my wife who is an absolutely not a sports fan I had been to my first NHL game in January of the year the Pilots came in and I just hockey fascinated me. They said you need to go to an NHL game I was in Dallas when so that first game. I stoled the wife had three little boys. I said I have tickets for hockey She said this is the stupidest thing ever I cannot believe you’re taking me and that they think hockey’s gonna be a success offense cos and just go with me By the second period she had moved from the other end of the boys to seat next to me and said can we get tickets? Tomorrow night by then we had season tickets for years on in and that’s what we did every single game the little boys had jerseys we went and spent the night Tallahassee for the first playoff game it became but the Team did a phenomenal job of engaging those players into the community You remember Bill and you do I know you were a big part of it Paul. They were everywhere Those players were everywhere and Ray’s story typifies why they were so successful how they hooked people on the sport who are still season ticket holders today and it is Remarkable because all of those other teams we talked about Mobile Baton Rouge New Orleans, they’re gone Pensacola is the one team still left who has a successful franchise playoff game sold out in two hours And we’re not talking 5,000. We’re not talking 6,000 We’re talking like over 8,000 things. We had to put up seats all the way up at the top To fit more people win to get into to two hours We’re talking two hours of a playoff game sold out. That’s amazing. That was an exciting time. You were just a kid at the time You weren’t here. So Old guys sitting around talking so we’ll get you into the car So we’ll get you in the conversation now what brought you to put the pool I actually got lucky ray knows the bet half of me who was much better than me as family friends But yeah But I met her in the first night ever was here at the there was a thing called gallery night going on It was the first one at an old law zoos stop by got lucky to go in the right place and met her on the dance floor and and never been to Pensacola first night ever and now it’s home got a family and just great people and you look around this room in this table and the Experience that you can you can learn from and the people that put their passion into the city I’ve worked in a lot of markets big markets where it’s the hustle and bustle But you’re a commodity meaning that everybody just goes their job where the people in Pensacola whether it’s with, you know? Four different companies we all work together we all we always see each other grab lunch together our friends together and that’s something that is just like the sport scene not just with broadcasters But you see a Derrick Brooks or a Reggie Evans or a Fred Robbins or a Adron chambers? and people that played in different times in different errors different sports and they all come up and it’s like they Just get together as best friends again. And that’s one of the coolest things that I see in Pensacola You know that that hope that whole hockey thing I think it did just kind of change the landscape when I think it back on it because we mentioned you know You had the Pensacola tornadoes and here here’s one. I’ll throw at you did remember to remember the wings the football team Yeah, I don’t think that lasted very no and we had the barracudas with with the hockey the indoor football you to thought that was

Going to take off it didn’t so yeah, I mean it was a women’s football team There’s been a lot of attempts to to have minor league professional sports, but obviously the ice Flyers turn ice pilots turned ice Flyers and the Blue Wahoos have have done it and they and they’ve made and they’ve changed Pensacola now, we’ve got some Top-level soccer Going on out there. I know they’re playing in Tallahassee Saturday night Whatever that level of the pro pro soccer going on now teams win too. I mean the teams win that’s another thing Paul Yeah, if they 1/3 SPL championships in a four or five year span Right most if you’re not winning people are going to be you know Shaky to get down to the games. And that’s one thing if you continue to win those bands that were borderline Let’s go down and watch a game between a team 20 games below or fighting for a chance of the playoffs That’s a lot different on Friday. Now. That’s a good point. You know, it’s funny You mentioned the thing about your wife and hockey so my daughter is not a real big sports fan But she’s kind of into hockey So she likes the Chicago Blackhawks and so we kind of got she kind of got turned on to that and of course we go Down and watch or sea-ice Flyers play and everything. What do you think? It is about the game of hockey that seemed seems to bring in not you’re a traditional sports fan Well, I think it’s just the people involved in the players you know, I’ve got the interview I cover all the sports got the interview some some great names and and I think You know the hockey players are the easiest to work with You just saw there or any child Ward showed your soul there in the front drop the Stanley Cup final and st Louis winning at all and what they did for For Leila, that was just amazing. I know a kid was 11 years old St. Louis fly and her and her family to the game. They did charity work. They do a bunch of that Hockey does but I think they’re just like everyday everyday people The players are even at the highest level in the NHL and they treat everybody the same just on the way that they were Brought up and I just think the fans take to it. It’s it’s it’s different. They’re on skates it’s it’s like At the pace speed Is amazing. It doesn’t hurt living in Florida to have four, you know, take a date out there and it’s always air-conditioned. Yeah But it’s the energy and passion there’s a lot of sports also where you look at a sport You could have a baseball game and I love baseball I grew up around baseball, but it could be 11:00 to 1:00 and you’re just waiting in the third inning for that game, you know six innings later looking at your watch because you know, It’s already in the bag most games in in hockey. There’s always action Because there’s barely any whistles So there’s ohi’s energy and it’s usually always closed spent a couple Ice Fire Games where they’ve blown the team out but overall It’s it’s within three goals that kind of wrench where you’re always Using that excitement and energy whether you’re rooting your team on to keep the lead or to get back in the game And I think that keeps people up there. They’re excited they’re not sweating as much and they’re enjoying it where there’s other sports where it can be over by halftime and you’re just sort of Looking at the watch to go home and in its legal fight It’s fascination that they let them Duke it out Playoff time you have the overtime the overtime Well, I mean as far as you go with a game seven and overtime, it’s amazing up and better and in sports then Playoff hockey, especially when it goes into overtime winner. It’s such, you know, they’re enthused and the losers like oh You know such a momentum change just by watching it and how fast pace it is And what is that steak come play off there and dentists love sport getting to scout their next patient If you want to you know I’m talking about a ring of football because I was involved with that too on what happened back then you had arena football and then you had a f2 and that’s what Pensacola was and so what they did was that they They piggybacked all these ECHL teams. Mm-hmm. So the Same ownership group. So you have the same ownership group with the same staff doing both and so some you know, Some people got kind of got tired of it. So it worked for three years. I was animalism of themselves

Right, right the first year I could remember the first what four or five games sold out The first arena football game early a f2 game in Pensacola was amazing. It was amazing doing it it was it was very fast pace fans got into it, but I think when as you mentioned regular You know the ownership group on both I think if you do do it the right way and I see where arena football is now these days, you know but if they ever get back and You do bring an owner in here that just wants to do arena football They do it the right way, you know as far as one one ownership group with that. I think it could possibly go Indoor soccer you ever come back again here that was those games were a bunch of I Remember we Jimmy Graham was the coach and I can’t remember who the ownership guy was a local guy and you know Indoor soccer was and now soccer courses continues – boom – it’s to track up I think again it’s all dependent upon Who’s running it and how they market it? Yeah, absolutely corporate base is exactly I mean The good thing about the ice flyers is the owner Greg Harris lives in the community the great thing about the Blue Wahoos is the owner Quinton Ricci Studer they live in the community Everybody is stays here year-round They both franchises work year-round to try to sell tickets because that’s that’s what you have to do to get a season ticket base up and they get those group outings and those per game Sales to make your your bottom line and I think I mean the ice flyers have drawn over a hundred thousand fans in 28 games And the Blue Wahoos have drawn over 300 thousand for 70 games that’s phenomenal for a market our size. It is phenomenal How big a deal do you think it was when Quint Studer made the big time commitment? To baseball because I mean originally with the pelicans and and then with the Blue Wahoos and you know the W team for that for the Reds at the time and now I’m gonna soda I mean That’s a big deal for our community in my judgment Jeff. I think It’s the single most transformational Element that’s happened to our community III don’t think Pensacola is where we are right now without the Blue Wahoos I say that from a community standpoint at downtown standpoint and to think what Quint and Richie Studer had to go through To get this stadium and we it passed a vote and then it was five almost five years later before they broke ground I mean it was a long time and he for most People in that in that realm and that and an owner like that wouldn’t walked away He didn’t he would believed in this community. He believed it would be a success It has changed downtown. It has changed, Pensacola We wouldn’t be where we are without that and what it’s led to that’s the biggest thing I mean the the team itself it is an atmosphere unlike any other minor league stadium to in a city that You’re always gonna get a nice nice Bay Breeze right there. You get the fireworks They they really put time and effort into thinking about the little things too for the kids for the fans with their concessions everything to really get involved with people that might not be Maybe your fair weather baseball fan or just wants to enjoy a Saturday at the park. The firework shows are great They’re like the 4th of July and getting to bring the family out there sit on the hill and enjoy the time is amazing but one thing that they do is with the I’ve done minor-league baseball games in places and I was in Las Vegas Shocking people to go out to Vegas some planes to go to minor league baseball I found that out They want to go things like Bellagio and casinos, but when you’re out there There’s not as much of that atmosphere where people actually wear wha-hoo gear in town and want to be fans where? Most of the time it’s just a team Trying to get to the majors and that’s what they look at it where it guys actually don’t mind staying here for a little long well, I mean when you sit in that Stadium I mean you you just have to look at how beautiful the stadium is and like you’re talking about taking care of the little things and just just I mean it’s magic and and you have to say to yourself for those of us who have been around for a while and know the challenges that The students went through to get that there. I mean, it’s just like Can you believe they had to go through up to? It it’s a no-brainer now, you know the other thing in my judgment that I think has been a big Transformational event for Pensacola sports and the sports scene has been the University of West Florida getting a football team and you know Dr. Judy bents, you know making that, you know come to fruition and I mean how cool was that and you take a look at the photograph on the scene there? I mean, what are your thoughts on that? That’s a game-changer – it was and again what his elevated UWF football is having Blue Wahoos Stadium to play there is no division –

Location in America to match it and their attendance has reflected it There were 10 their attendance for Division two is in the top 20 for a program That’s only, you know four years old. It’s remarkable. But again, it can’t happen Without Blue Wahoos Stadium if they had gone to a high school venue just pick a high school It wouldn’t have had the same impact. You wouldn’t have had the same crowd We might not be talking about UWF football like we are now from the get-go the opening night that they played in that Stadium It was magical and I think that’s that’s why you’re seeing and and look how its transformed. Do they even guarantee a perfect sunset? Biggest thing that’s such a recruiting tool – right obviously You know for the players they go on off onto the campus at UW, FA You want to come on down C or a stadium boom right there? And I also think that they got the right guy Oh, yeah. Genican Kritika was a homerun hit. Yep, and getting him so community Driven and successful and doing it has time for everybody They made a home run with Pete genic at home organization out there They’ve just done a tremendous job and it’s really I just think it really has helped transform Transform the community no question You see some stats out there where people throw things in that are just ancillary type stats where you know a team in negative 15 degree weather on Sundays usually are Three and four and you’re like what am I gonna make of that’s that at all like I don’t even know what’s happening where when you look at what UWF has done when you have a stat you are the first in the history of any program in two years to make the postseason and then you go to the Championship as an underdog four times and get all the way to the national title game That’s something you sit back in shock And that’s the thing is they’re not just doing things that are great raw for the local scene Which everybody supports the teams? They’re doing things that nobody’s ever seen in this country and that’s amazing and one of the advantages that they have is they have a great place to recruit because Pensacola and Northwest Florida has always been well known for having great high school Athletes and particularly in the world of football so that’s got to be huge for them. Moving forward. Yeah I mean I think and they’ve reached out and they’ve done a great job trying to get some of those guys the keys that you know a lot of the guys from our area they and I think people don’t understand this Jeff some of them just want to play elsewhere because they they want a new you know a Fresh start but UWF has recruited some local guys that have helped them certainly on that national title run team there were local guys on that team that were big factors in that in that run but Again, it it it’s brought an awareness to UWF more than anything that I don’t think existed before I mean Everybody knew UWF has a car but that football success Elevated the brand UWF and I think you’re it’s reflective in their enrollment. It’s reflective and their fundraising It’s reflective in their marketing I think Racine if you come through the Pensacola sports with all the high school all-star games in football over the years absolutely now get to Stay home at UW, absolutely, but there was a real challenge out there because the environment was so successful I mean you talk about their golf team and tennis teams into won national championships and been Competitive and the quality of the coaches out there phenomenal. I mean this guy and they stayed there’s a longevity of them it’s amazing and to bring in football was a real challenge because they had to embrace that in there were some concern that how will it be embraced by Judy Benz is She’s a very unique individual and she knew football would set the bar a little bit higher and it would be the front porch because she believed and that was the face of the of University was going to be in the athletics and foot we needed football to take us to that next thing and she stood behind that And Pete you’re right Paul Pete was the right pick to go out there and and meld with those coaches and now they just added Kristin Dorsey Which is a phenomenal local higher As their women’s golf coach this blood just last week Right exactly great choice local girl been very successful and she will bring high quality Too. Well, not that it’s not quality But it would she will be a real asset out there another it’s gonna be interesting to see what happens in the future Where they want to play because you hear all this talk that they want to go on You know build something to stay them on campus. Who knows? Why would they want to leave? That stadium downtown why they would want to whether they will or not or what’s the right thing and to me is Because college athletics are about the students first and so to be on campus because that is not two miles from downtown, you know And you know you want to be that

College after the college student once the experience of walking across campus and going to this so that’s the battle and they have obviously have a local company who has invested into a Beautiful turf field out there and how do they balance that whether they play a couple of games here in a couple of games? I don’t know if it’s gonna be interesting to see what happens in the next couple of years because you know There’s two college experiences. I want to go to college. I want to go to be able to go to a football game I don’t want to crawl walk across campus So UCF did there’s gonna be some real challenges in decision making there Of course the other side of the coin is how many college students get to walk across campus to a beautiful stadium on the bay and a nice environments are Gonna be made as especially as UWF moves to a downtown more and more downtown presence. Yeah Fascinating conversation. We’re having here. We are going to continue this great conversation about Pensacola sports We’re looking kind of at the past the present and the future We’ll be back in just a couple of moments. You’re watching in studio on wsre television PBS for the gulf coast You’re watching in studio on wsre television PBS for the gulf coast our guest Chad Billy ante from ESPN Pensacola 94.5 FM rape armor with Pensacola sports bill Valona with Blue Wahoos comm and he’s also a contributor to p nj.com and also paul chestnut voice of the pensacola ice fliers and also Radio show hosts tone both sports dr. On w pnn radio 103.7 FM FM and 790 a.m. And Question for you radio guys here, you know, there’s a lot of talk particularly in the big markets New York Chicago LA so talk sports radio is really a Vibrant thing and you get all kinds of characters calling it what that folks going to talk to you Goke I guess when you listen to Finebaum, sometimes you can’t ever hit that window So I mean if the callers are respectful they’re good sports fans are passionate but one thing working in this market That’s really cool. Jeff is that you get an opportunity? To really cover so many different sports and so many different teams where there’s you know if you you have like a quota of how much time you’re watching that tick in some cities like a Boston or Chicago if you Get away from their major-league team. So we’re down here The big five Alabama year a couple rule tides when you go on this road, you know LSU, Florida Florida State and then Auburn those are probably the five and then you’ve got your Troy’s in South Alabama’s the team’s obviously what UWF and the local teams, but then you know the Saints fans you have fans from all over a lot of people because of Pensacola na s and the beaches Brings in a number of people from all over the country So it’s not just one team and it’s fun because when you have a breaking story you don’t feel as bad that you’re taking time away from those fans that are just salivating because they got off work and they have a 15-minute drive and they want to hear about just Braves baseball or some like a market where you have to talk So I’ve really respected that it makes our job easier I know Paul and we get to cover a platform of sports and events like the Senior Bowl Blue Wahoos Pensacola sports events each and every week. So it’s always it’s a blast it’s kind of my favorite Heinen’s old school Jeff, you know because uh, But what I care about is what they do in the I don’t care about the other stuff that that happened So I’m oh let’s go I’ll go straight to the source and I just make I go straight I go I go straight to the source You know I’m there someday Saints training camp mini camp was just there two straight weeks o TAS mini camp because there’s big Saints fans in this area We’re proud to be a part of you know The Saints radio network wpn and also Alabama football Eli gold comes on as well The Reese’s scene of all had the opportunity Five years in a row now broadcasts in that game for the Pensacola market out there all week

so I don’t mess so I go straight to the source and Get it straight for our listeners. You know, that’s the cool thing about our market is because where we are in, Florida You know you have Florida you in Florida, Florida State fans big-time LSU contingent here, Alabama Auburn and sometimes when I talked to me I was talking to a gentleman the other day in Boston he’s like, oh are you, you know Tampa Bay fan or Jacksonville fan and I go well, no, not really I said, you know So for me personally I’m a Miami Dolphins fan first and foremost and then a New Orleans Saints fan and you know I explained to it was it, you know the the I was a kid grew up in Florida The Dolphins were here, you know well before Jacksonville or Tampa and then the Saints, you know We’re so close by and and and what a great team. That’s awful Because of the people like yourself that rule up here ray and remember them being awful now They’re one of the elite NFL team What they do and what they preach in the community, but also You know at the entertainment factor I believe they were voted the most entertaining place to be at for an NFL game was if the mercedes-benz Superdome Yeah, it’s different I’m used to you know Pittsburgh Cleveland, old-school Buffalo and coming on it is a big party You know there and last year, I mean the players they were winning. They were dominating. They were playing the loud music they started when they add the 30 point lead in the fourth quarter they started to do some dance and I’m the sidelights and the fans got into it and they were playing up with one another and technology has changed so much when it comes to Radio and even television today because of you know, even today United’s You know a team if a team wins a big game You already know but I do a Drivetime in the afternoon at 5:00. Most people have already got their headlines by that time We’re back in the day. They were waiting and maybe that was their five-minute window Most people are scrolling through Facebook or on their phone. They already know things happening and late-breaking that dunna not done or not so you know when trades are happening breaking news stories and they’re even breaking news stories that are just Rumors these days a rumor. This guy might go here breaking Story what? exactly the good old fake news and that’s the thing is Today it’s changed where it’s more topical and conversational pieces that’s why the call ins the people talking getting people to feel like they’re part of the show is important on their opinion because Everybody’s opinions right until they play the game. I think it’s that’s one thing that’s fascinating about the sports radio world I’ve worked in about 12 to 13 years in the radio side and Over the 13 years when phones flip phones started to come out to now you can see a change in Not just the headlines but to get involved in the big stories. What about and this is front nuttin so much’ pensacola No question But just maybe an overall question you think twitter is good or bad for the athletes because some of them seem to get themselves How they use it. Yeah, I think it’s good or bad for anybody. I mean look at the Politicians the public officials look at everybody who’s got themselves in trouble and you’re thinking to yourself You know, how could they be this stupid? Yeah, you know to put this out there and I think it’s gonna get saved or or captured as they say and and Regurgitate it. I mean it is amazing to me but it’s I think it’s allowed them to get their their message out there and the way they want to but There’s there’s definitely been a downside to all the social mean. It’s gotten so many athletes in trouble The good thing about Twitter is if you don’t like them You can unfollow them unlike there’s some if you don’t like the local, you know Whoever’s on your local network or the local newspaper or this you really know have a choice, you know You listen to him where if you don’t like somebody on Twitter click and move on but for the athletes I think they quickly look at it But there is there there’s no excuse today because they’re told and taught and the guys at the top level They’ve got agents and other people a lot of times handling that person’s checkmark so there is no reason for people unless it’s one of those late nights and they’re getting home to to go ahead and Put something stupid out there. Let’s talk about some of the great athletes from this area Let’s start with baseball talk about Don Sutton. You know, who? You know, he’s kind of the first one I kind of really remember remember, you know from the area and played for the Los Angeles and Dodgers. You probably covered him So I remember I was in Pittsburgh growing up like Paul and and Don Sutton was pitching against the Pirates who then had Hall of Famers like Clemente and Stargell in the lineup and Don was Always successful against him saw at least kidded him, you know how to get Roberto Clemente Anyway Don a trick or two. Yeah He was trying but now Don will tell you he was not the best pitcher at Tate high school and there were other

pitchers in the community His age that he felt like we’re better But what happened Don kept working and working and he got that break You know back then the draft wasn’t that isn’t anything like it was now he got a phone call the Dodgers signed him just so happened all the pieces fell into place and he makes his debut on a staff that had Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale and you think about that and I’ve gone Sutton’s part of that and I I think He made it possible for Baseball players in Pensacola to say hey, he did it. Yeah, I can too Look who’s followed You know, nobody nobody’s a Hall of Famer like Don Sutton, but we’ve had so many baseball players, right? They all will tell you that you know, especially the older ones Don Sutton made it possible He paved the way and he’s been such a great ambassador to for our community because he he loves Pensacola Yeah, absolutely. And and and think about how many of the great players have come out at a time school, right? We’re done with and then especially and don’t forget buck showalter who wasn’t necessarily a player but a great manager But his job was in the New York Penn League and I did the Erie Cardinals and it’s a short a rookie league Two of the players on the team by the way, Lewis Allison BN Figueroa who played for Florida State? But I can remember when the Yankees came on in they said okay Here comes the future manager of the Yankees and it was Buck Showalter Wow And I remember going on up to him and I talked to him about it I’m the at the Pensacola sports banquet when you had him rate As I guess it was Ainsworth field and I can remember the Yankees and I was just talking about this bill the other day imagine The Yankees being in the the subtly flying over Blue Wahoos day I mean they came on off the bus and they were just launching home run after our home right there There’s a difference there and I thought you you feel it because they were based out of Oneonta But I can remember you know everyone talking about Buck Showalter and he it was a young buck showalter with their Blond hair that a day and it was like in any and he had you know He had it that he was gonna go into make it and when I approached him at the sports banquet About a couple of years ago because yeah, I remember that Ainsworth field You know how it was and I’ll they have a dress in the school or whatever You know it was it was just a, you know, great little great time for a little moment there, but they knew The organization knew when Buck Showalter joined the Yankees that he was going to be successful and do what he did I had an opportunity to interview him for my program Conversations and this has been several years ago. He was still working with the ESPN at the time So before he took the Orioles job, but it was a great interview. It just a super nice guy and a genuine guy and it had some great stories talked about Billy Martin and all you can you can find it on YouTube just And it was it was fun. It was cool Cool getting to think George Steinbrenner came to Pensacola to try to woo him back after he had already signed to manage the Arizona Diamondbacks Steinbrenner flew in here personally went to Bucks home here in Pensacola to trying to think about this, you know That was that’s a pity. That was a big deal and Buck said no I’ve already made my mind up if you had any Billy Martin videos. I heard I hope they were pre edited, right? We did roll any Billy But who did you guys grow up? But when you were growing up who was your sports hero or someone you looked up to Ray was it? Probably Roger Staubach because Roger Staubach was here as you know In the Navy and play for the goshawk here and and one of our dear friends Man lived down the street shorty Ward was an efficient was a coach and and In part of the school system and shorty used to take us because we were neighborhood kids take us to the games for the gospel And so I became a Roger Staubach huge Roberts Roger stop off him because he was up That’s : as far as I knew I know we know where he was really from but he was we’d go out there and watch You play for the goshawk? So he he get thrown 35 yards of downfield those guys those other guys they could get you thrown too hard and of course he what he became a Star for me. Oh, yeah. How about you Chet? I mean lately in the news. It’s been a little crazy but Big Papi was my I’m being Boston roots and all just he was just like a cartoon character watching him all those years and Every time you knew he was going to step in there. Is that aura feeling baseball has that where you know? It’s three nothing two outs, but two guys walking You just have a feeling this guy’s gonna hit a home run. You just watch three and a half hours of a game Where nobody could get on base, but you know when this guy’s standing up at the plate

He’s gonna do something and that World Series after Aaron Boone and some of the moments before that It just meant that much more but David Ortiz, but obviously lately with the shootings and the Dominican and some of their stuff But he was always my favorite player. What about you Paul? I was spoiled as a kid So I grew up in Pittsburgh your time didn’t dad was going through, you know city of chance with Boston or whatever I mean when I was a kid, I thought it was great being them Pitts You know the Super Bowl run with the Steelers for Super Bowls in six years Yeah, the the the World Series 71 and 79 With the Pirates as well hockey was just starting to get going it Fascinated me, you know with it. I think the play-by-play announcer Mike Lang Loved listening to him But as a kid I thought I was in and in heaven because it just kept on winning championships and You know the Steelers beating Roger Staubach Dallas Cowboys in the in the Superbowl, you know for two years but one player that I did take to was many saying in Many people me not number 35 for the Pirates That’s 7179 love he was a catcher and and I so like Johnny Bench, you know Yeah, play volleyball everybody played Little League Yeah, or Pony League in that and I was a catcher when the reasons bob was because of them. Yeah, me too I was like I should do. What about you bill? Well, you know like Paul I grew up in Pittsburgh, but it’s clear was Roberto Clemente You know, he was the Latino Jackie Robinson He broke the barrier for Latino players and it didn’t matter to All of us in school who were in grade school that he didn’t speak great English What mattered was he won? Baseball game Kenny knew how to play like nobody I have ever seen. He had an arm I have never seen anybody have an arm like Roberto Clemente My father and uncle watch Willie Mays in his prime and they saw Jackie Robinson, but Roberto Clemente to me Changed a Community because the Pirates were terrible, you know now they captivated the city I was too young to remember when Bill Mazeroski hit the famous home run but Roberto Clemente batted over 300 in that world I mean over 500 in that World Series, he was a great player and then he just transcended for you know You’re talking about somebody who never batted under 300 for his major lit for most of his major-league career It was he never went through a slump and the guy never took batting practice. That was his thing He didn’t like it he whatever he did on his own he did right but he just had a quality I think for boy for me. It was magical watching that guy play every night my first Major league baseball game was the Pirates and reds and we sat in right field My brother was a big Clemente fan and I was fortunate enough to see Roberto Clemente play and I remember that this past year I’m doing the radio show or with Blue Wahoos Stadium and I had Ramon on the the film manager and I asked him what when his first game I shared of mine and I said Roberto Clemente and and his high slid up he Goes Robert you you saw Roberto Clemente play. He goes you kidding. I don’t know. Yeah, it’s a home I mean, they probably maybe down the road then they might retire his number 21, you know all across the board like Jackie Robinson. He’s had that nature Influences, it’s a shame and I can remember what happened on New Year’s our New Year’s Eve, you know when he was when he and that plane crash Our whole family was just stunned. It was like it was like somebody in our family Passed wait for it. I mean we were just Crushed he’s a hero among Latino even today I mean ever you mention his name and you’ll get a reaction, you know for me growing up in the southeast It was Hank Aaron You know with the Atlanta Braves, obviously and and then the Miami Dolphins Larry Csonka Remember big number 39 the full-back, you know and and that great team the Dolphins had back in the 1970s and Bob Griese and Jim kick and Paul Warfield and Bono Connie and all those guys who Unfortunately, and I guess I’ll drift off into this just for a couple of moments, you know now things are starting to come out with the Issues that many of them are having because of the head injuries over the years and that’s really a sad story Where where do you think the NFL eventually lands on that? It’s You know what? It’s Jeff. It’s it’s hard to Lessen the impact of these collisions I mean, I you can have the greatest helmet technology which they do you can have the greatest safety you’re talking about guys today if you stand on an NFL sideline and Watch the speed of these guys and the collisions. It’s It’ll send chills to smilin. Yeah, the accumulation over because these kids start young the accumulation is probably I don’t want to say under factored but I

Think that’s a major part of it too. It’s not all happened in just the NFL level Then you go go stand on the side of a high school Okay and watch how fast and violent those kids are in this day and age because they they’ve while they’ve increased the quality of the helmet it’s now perceived as it’s a weapon and oh I can really And so right you’re right it’s in the high school level to its trickle all the way not these guys are such good athletes and they work out year-round and There he comes ya know. I thought I was a pretty good high school basketball player the kids today are so far superior to anything that My generation was well I remember I remember I was in high school and there was a kid could bench 300 pounds and I was a big deal Right now, that’s no big deal, right? that’s your Everybody yeah that’s sort of a misnomer though about it has to be about the size because it’s more about to me it goes back to the Technique of our coaches and the people doing it right training because you see most injuries Severe injuries because I was a quarterback there. Not a good one. I just played it, but we need to make that clear but my job was to pitch the ball to the good guys and have them run down the field and At that, I mean they’d pick you up in body slam Yeah I’m not a big guy actually did get body slammed by Joe Cohen who played for the Florida Gators at Palm Bay? And I remember looking back and the thing about it was You knew the risk versus the reward of football these guys do at the top level Some of them are making 1.5 to 2 million dollars a game a game So if someone told a lot of people out there, I’ll give you a million dollars for 3 hours. What will you do? I mean that would be a fun reality show but the difference is I think in sports today is These guys nobody is making kids line up to play football in college There’s more kids to make the game safer. A lot of people are against some of the hits and the 15-yard penalty For if to make the game safer and go around that safer. I’ve got no problem with it But to me, it’s like everything it’s like school like training teaching them The right thing at the right level will mold them for the rest of their lives and I think a lot of the youth coaches not in this area We’ve got some good ones But there’s a lot of youth coaches that are just letting them play and they’re not Teaching them the basics and how to tackle and do the right things instead of Swan diving at people and breaking your neck Those are the things that I think are important you cover the Saints so you see it I think the NFL’s doing a great job anything as far as you’re not trying to Eliminate, you know, they changed the rules they changed as far as training camp is concerned I mean what just a couple weeks ago. They said hey no more Oklahoma drill to tell the truth Some of the players probably didn’t know what an Oklahoma drill was I remember Chuck Noll with the Steelers one of the first things he did training camp day number one Oklahoma drill, you know when a dime remember playing high school sports we added, you know, as far as the Oklahoma kill rate you remember Taken out. Yeah, there’s one practice training camp. I remember three days. Oh, yeah not to them. Yeah talked to three I don’t remember three or two, you know three days if they want know Right. Now this is I think the NFL’s doing a The best that they can as far as making it safety I read for everybody even and they teach it Even down on the peewee level. Yeah. I’m getting real short on time a couple of things. I want to touch on another big Sport in Northwest Florida, and then there’s been a lot of success within our area that oftentimes is overlooked is stock car racing I mean five flag Speedway and the snowball Derby is a legendary short track Racing you’ve covered so glad you brought that up Jeff. I mean again the snowball Derby just had its 50th race and a Year two years ago and to think about the the people who have raced here in one I mean Kyle Kyle Busch will go into the NASCAR Hall of Fame and you know, his win was pretty Captivating and and then you’d think about a Joanna long from Pensacola who went to Pine Forest High School youngest female to ever race in a NASCAR circuit after winning the snowball Derby enormous ly popular here the people that have raced and the people that have won now when you look at some of these current nascar stars Like erik jones and some others they raced here they won here and and to think about what Tim Brian and his family have done out there with you know a Facility and it’s pretty bare-bones and and and to put on a show like they’ve put on and what it’s meant You know that week is probably the greatest extended sports week in terms of the people who are coming in from all over the other country and staying here in the in the economic Because there’s not too many better human beings and Tim Rice a great guy absolutely

Yeah, and and what a great that that place has a great history. I mean Waltrip sand Allison’s and Wallace ed Rusty Wallace is kid won that thing Stephen Wallace won the thing Drivers have raced there. I’m really short on time but I want to run around the table here and just get each one of you to kind of give me what you think the Future of Pensacola sports scene looks like in about 40 seconds I think we’re healthy I think we have to do a very serious look at what our facilities are in we have got some facilities are dated We need to find some turf fields. We need to find some funding to to modernize some of our facilities At some point, we’ve got to improve our indoor facilities and we’ve you know, we’ve been working on that for a long time But I think I think we have some the athletes are here The passion is here, but I think the community’s got it We got to make sure that we are we’re providing them the facilities that they need to to play Chad in 30 seconds I think yeah with a daughter growing up that I want to live here To stay home and and to see the the community grow. We need more of the complexes to build the future We have great professional teams and surroundings downtown is going up like wildfires. Look at the traffic cones But we need some great sports complexes for the kids for the future I think the high school athletes are off the charts I think they’re seeing more and more top-notch coaches, especially the high school football scene coming on in I Just think that we’re gonna see more and more Kids play college football and on Sundays in the NFL as well and I think that the the hockey with the ice Flyers obviously is healthy and obviously so so Are the Blue Wahoos as well? My two dreams and writing, you know, I are either a remodeled or redone Basin alright because I think it’s essential for the community and and and my other wish would be a grandstand for Blue Wahoos stadiums to protect people from the rain and And have a little more shade and I think if you do those two things You our community. Our venues are further enhanced and I just hope everybody Appreciates what we have because I think sometimes it’s overlooked We’re one of the smaller markets doing great things in sports for a market this size. We have a great sports scene, I think Gentlemen, thank you so much. This was fun. We should do this again. I love it Thank you so very much for spending some time with us We have been talking about Pensacola sports past president future Our guests have been Paul chestnut the voice of the Pensacola ice fliers and host of the sports roundtable Which airs weekdays from 11:00 a.m To noon on w p NN radio 103.7 FM and 790 a.m Ray Palmer is the president and CEO of Pensacola Sports Bill Valona senior writer for bluehost.com and contributor to p nj.com And Chad brilliant a host of sports drive with Chad Billy on teh heard weekdays from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. On ESPN Pensacola 94.5 FM as well as being simulcast on blab television by the way the show will be available soon online at wsre.org/conversations You