The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

May 6, 2011

A wonderful tribute to the ‘Voice of the Mountaineers’

MORGANTOWN — Congratulations go out to folks at the Erickson Alumni Center and West Virginia Radio Corporation.

In a cooperative venture, they recently established a most deserving memorial to the late Jack Fleming, who forever will be known as West Virginia University’s “Voice of the Mountaineers.”

Make no mistake, Tony Caridi has been a very fitting successor since Fleming’s death on Jan. 5, 2001, but even he insisted that “The Voice of the Mountaineers” be preserved exclusively for his longtime predecessor and friend.

Anyway, there now is a place in the WVU Erickson Alumni Center marked “Fleming’s Corner.” It not only contains a bust of Jack, created by Jamie Lester, who also did the Jerry West bust now in front of the Coliseum, but numerous other reminders of the extremely talented Morgantown native.

Jack and I grew up together in local schools and were good friends. What’s more, we were co-sports editors of The Daily Athenaeum at WVU in 1946-47 and 1947-48.

While he settled for radio and TV, and I for newspaper writing, our paths crossed frequently covering WVU football, basketball and baseball games home and away.

I always have admired Fleming as a sports announcer. In his prime, I don’t think anyone was better — that he indeed was the best.

In 1954, I had the privilege of sitting next to George Washington basketball coach Bill Reinhart at a breakfast. He told me, “I never scout West Virginia in person. I just listen to Jack Fleming’s broadcasts on WWVA’s powerful radio station, and I know exactly what the Mountaineers are doing!”

That had to be among Jack Fleming’s greatest tributes. And Reinhart’s GW teams were nationally ranked then.

The display in “Fleming’s Corner” is open to the public at the Erickson Alumni Center during business hours.

Fleming not only entertained millions, covering several generations of Mountaineers games over the years, but also announced Pittsburgh Steelers football games and the NBA’s Chicago Bulls games.

Mike Parsons, who’s still WVU’s deputy to the athletic director, once said of Jack Fleming:

“He painted pictures with words. Jack held other premier jobs during his 47-year broadcasting career. But announcing West Virginia games was his passion.”

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