Fall afternoons, spring nights, floating across the grass and echoing in the rafters. You’ve spent plenty of hours with Dick Calvert.
At least, with his disembodied voice.
UNLV’s public address announcer, a 34-year-old scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers when he became the Voice of the Rebels in 1970, has behind the microphone for what will be his 48th season this year.
Now 81, Calvert remains a constant presence in UNLV athletics. The Rebels’ Vin Scully in scarlet and gray.
“I gave over half my life to this,” he said. “But it's still the same. I get excited just going to the arena, the ballpark, the stadium.”
Baseball is his first, and truest love, but the 1976-77 Runnin’ Rebels Final Four team is still his favorite. The first time is always something. The old flying saucer Convention Center, 6,000 strong with people standing in the aisles to watch the Rebels, had its charms. But the Athletic Director Brad Rothermel presided over the opening of the Thomas & Mack Center during his tenure, an era of UNLV sports that Calvert says was the most exciting time to be a Rebels fan in the school’s history.
Fred Dallimore was leading the baseball team through 80 games a year in a stacked division. Harvey Hyde’s football team had Randall Cunningham under center. And Jerry Tarkanian was taking on all comers on the court, to the delight of a city.
“It was a who's-who who came, whether they were basketball fans or not,” Calvert said. “Back in those days people came to the games dressed in their finest, like they were going out to dinner. The ladies wearing furs, the gentlemen wearing coats and ties and sitting courtside with their martinis or whatever the hell they were drinking.”
Those fur-bedecked women had to be careful. The aggressive Rebels were always diving after loose balls — sometimes into the courtside seats.
The late 1990s and 2000s may have seen those fan-player close calls slip away as trainers tables and the like put fans at a remove; and the swells drifting away from their posts. But Calvert sees renewed reason for optimism, especially in football with a rebuilt team nearly complete and a new stadium soon to be built.
Which means Calvert, despite serving as the public address announcer for all UNLV sports and the Las Vegas 51s, despite serving on the board (and as the emcee, and on the board of) the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame, and despite owning his own company, Nevada Sports Productions, isn’t going anywhere.
“The R-word is always followed by the D-word,” Calvert said. “As long as I can keep doing it and they still want me? I love doing it. Why would I want to quit? I want to go and see the game anyway. Someone would ask me to buy a ticket. I can't tell you the last time I bought a ticket to any sporting event. I got the best seat in the house, and they pay me to do it.”