Last night the originating voice of the Washington Capitals, Ron Weber, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as the 2010 Foster Hewitt Memorial Award recipient. If any individual affiliated with the Caps belongs in Hockey’s Hall, it’s Weber. Beginning with the Caps’ inaugural season in 1974, Weber over the course of the following 23 years never missed a single game, regular season or playoffs. Baltimore has its Iron Man, Washington Ron Weber.
It’s impossible to overstate the impact Weber had in forging a durable hockey community here. He was a singular access point for those Washingtonians unable to attend Caps’ games in Landover, Md. For most of the Caps’ first 10 seasons, there simply was no television coverage of the team’s games, certainly nothing approaching today’s October through spring blanketing of the regular season. And Weber seemed to take that special responsibility of being a pool reporter’s eyes on the action for us and make it his broadcast manifesto. He believed in his heart that hockey was the greatest game on the planet, and his role in the broadcast booth was to bring it alive for a community with precious little experience with it.
Did he ever.
His calls were iconoclastic in their detail, illuminated by his trademark fluency with all manner of statistical analysis. He voice also bore a familial warmth; indeed, it wasn’t unusual, Weber told us, among the thousands of appreciative letters he received over the course of his career to read of a displaced Washingtonian detailing a night in which clear skies brought his Caps’ calls far up the Eastern seaboard on WTOP’s powerful signal. Weber was the very first Washington hockey figure interviewed by OFB just weeks into our startup, and during a memorable stroll down Memory Lane with him he told our pucksandbooks that if he could be given three games with which to introduce a Washingtonian to hockey — seated next to a newcomer to our game in Verizon Center over just a week’s worth of action — he was convinced he could make a lifelong hockey fan out of his companion. If your life was enriched by his broadcasts as ours were, you have no doubt about that.
Admin Update: Be sure to read Mike Vogel’s sit down with Ron Weber at the Caps’ site.
Maybe my memory is a little foggy, but weren’t the games on WMAL during Weber’s tenure (at least in the late 80s/early 90s), not WFED like it is today?