For decades, Jim Seay’s tenor underscored the finest moments of many high school athletes’ careers.
Seay’s long and distinguished career as a sports journalist and radio personality ended when he died unexpectedly on Wednesday.
Seay, 77, was an institution unto himself, his Jim Seay Productions company putting out a radio show from the studio in his Irmo home. He served as announcer for seven Gamecocks sports teams for more than 20 years, announcer for Newberry College football, and has been the announcer for S.C. High School League football and basketball championship events for about 40 years.
“He was always very professional in doing the announcing for our state championships,” league commissioner Jerome Singleton said. “He would tell you he trained with some of the best (announcers) in professional sports, a man who announced for the Yankees, and he took pride in doing our games the way the guys in the big leagues would.”
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Through his career, Seay earned the friendship and respect of his colleagues and subjects.
After working with Bob Fulton, The Voice of the Gamecocks, for much of his career, Seay helped the South Carolina icon develop and market a compilation disc. He also spearheaded efforts to organize and promote the Columbia Racers Reunion.
“He had a lot more energy than I do, he did so many things. I’ve never known Jim when he wasn’t around a sporting event. Sometimes he was just there to watch. He loved it,” said Richland Northeast athletics director and Chick-fil-A tournament director Gary Fulmer, who met Seay in the 1980s while coaching Lower Richland boys basketball.
Seay was slated to announce the games at the Chick-fil-A Classic next month.
Seay spent the Saturday before Thanksgiving in the press box at Charlie W. Johnson Stadium, watching Hammond square off against Wilson Hall in the SCISA championship game. But instead of sitting behind the microphone, Seay got to enjoy a few hours with his friend, Hall of Fame coach John Daye.
The two began working together when Daye was coaching at Seay’s alma mater, Columbia High. After that, their paths crossed frequently and Seay even rode the bus with Daye’s Heathwood Hall team one year to document the Highlanders’ SCISA championship experience.
“He really, really enjoyed high school football. That didn’t surprise me Saturday night to find him in the press box,” Daye said. “He was taking notes because he was going to talk about it on his radio show. He wanted to acknowledge every school and the team’s accomplishments. That’s what Jim Seay was about.”
Singleton said he was impressed with Seay’s facility for adapting to the changing technology. When the SCHSL began selling videos of the state finals in 1998, Seay’s colorful commentary memorialized the moments.
“Bob Fulton was the Voice of the Gamecocks, and Jim Seay, in a lot of ways, was the voice of Midlands high school sports,” Fulmer said.
That sentiment was echoed across the Internet as word of Seay’s passing spread and coaches and athletes responded to the news on Twitter.
“I don’t know if there are words that can describe how much Jim has done for Midlands sports,” Fulmer said. “There are not enough good words you could put down to say how much Jim is missed.”
If there were, it is certain Seay would have found them.
Seay’s funeral service will be held on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Caughman-Harmon Funeral Home in Columbia.