For the past 42 years not much has sidelined Little Falls Flyers public address announcer and former radio play-by-play man Jack Peck.
Even bypass surgery a few Thanksgivings ago didn't stop Peck from his announcing duties. (The surgery was done between football and basketball seasons).
But three weeks ago, Peck missed his first Flyers football game in recent memory because of pneumonia and bronchitis. Anyone who knows Peck knows it won't be long before they hear his baritone voice resonating through the loud speakers at Flyers Field or the high school gym.
There's a popular saying that the only two things in life that are certain are death and taxes. You can add another certainty to that: Jack Peck at a Flyers athletic event.
Even when on vacation in Florida a number of years ago, Peck and his wife, Betty, found a high school basketball game to attend. You could say high school sports are his cup of tea.
"I see what extracurricular activities can do for kids," said Peck. "I'm not just talking about sports. I'm talking about drama, choir, band and language clubs. I'm a very strong advocate that athletics and extracurricular activities is the other half of education."
After retiring from radio in 1991, Peck continued as the public address announcer and voice of Little Falls athletics.
Throughout those 42 years, Peck has seen many Flyers teams and athletes come and go, and usually has a story about them readily available.
"The fun part of being involved with sports is when you start talking with somebody about athletes," Peck said, "and one kid reminds you of another kid and so on.
"Tom Brutscher was the first Flyer to win a state heavyweight wrestling championship. John Hanowski was All-MIAC when he played football and hockey at St. John's. Now his kids are getting up there and playing hockey and baseball. Leeanne Grosso, who's teaching at Little Falls, was the one who really got girls' basketball going. She's a great role model.
"I can go into all the sports and pick out athletes that I remember."
Just as Peck remembers athletes, he also remembers the coaches who roamed the sidelines.
"Don Sorensen is an idol to me," said Peck. "Al Bauman, to me, brought defensive basketball to Minnesota and he won the state title in 1975. Jerry Cool taught girls how to play basketball like the boys. The result is that he's won more state basketball games than any other girls' coach in the state."
One of the many hundreds of games that sticks out in Peck's mind was when the Flyers won the 1979 state baseball championship 5-4 over Minnetonka in a come-from-behind fashion.
"In that game, Little Falls scored all their runs without the benefit of a base hit," said Peck. "They won on walks and a suicide squeeze."
Whether it's football, volleyball, basketball, baseball or track, to Peck, whatever season it is decides what his favorite sport is.
Peck's love for Flyers' athletics runs so deep that he donates the money he receives from public address announcing to the schools' boys and girls Athletics, Academics and Arts award winners in the form of a scholarship.
"Little Falls sports have been a big part of my life," said Peck.
Besides his love of sports, Peck attributes his longevity to the relationships he's built with the athletes, coaches and officials and doesn't foresee himself giving any of that up soon.
"For me, going to a game is a renewal of friendships with the officials, coaches and athletic directors," Peck said. "It's also fun to watch these young kids. I'll keep doing this as long as I can go. What the heck, I've got a front row seat."
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.