This story appeared in The State on Dec. 24, 2000, two days after Bob Fulton’s 80th birthday party.
The years pass away all too quickly, and the home runs become longer, the blocks more jarring, the jump shots more difficult and the games more dramatic.
Yes, and friends become dearer, too - a truth on display for the world to see Friday night at Seawell's.
Family, friends and a who's who in University of South Carolina athletics took time from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season to show their appreciation for a man called the Voice of the Gamecocks.
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They shared remembrances, swapped lies and generally enjoyed an evening sprinkled with good humor in honoring one of the leaders on the all-time "good guys" list, Bob Fulton .
A cross-section of his constituency - young and not-so-young, past and current coaches, athletes who dominated the headlines and some who seldom left the bench, former colleagues and, of course, friends and fans - filled the hall to overflowing in the celebration of Fulton 's 80th birthday.
They laughed at the suggestion that the heat from candles on his cake might set off the fire alarms and spent a lot of time on trips down memory lane.
Fulton yielded his spot behind the microphone in 1995, retiring after 53 years in broadcasting - the last 43 calling Carolina games. But the millions who heard his distinctive voice paint a vivid picture of athletic competition could never forget him, and they came together Friday night to show their affection again.
No excuse should be required to celebrate Bob Fulton , who almost surely brought more fans to Carolina than anyone else. Stories abound of folks huddled around radios to hear him describe the Gamecocks on the court or the gridiron or the diamond, and he forged a link with listeners that cannot be bought at any price.
Only the rare ones earn that kind of loyalty, and Fulton did.
Pardon me if this sounds old-fashioned, but I offer no apology. Simply, Fulton 's approach to sports broadcasting never should go out of style.
Take those self-important announcers who shriek to call attention to themselves and sweep them out with the rubbish. Take those egotists who consider themselves bigger than the games and send them to the back of the line.
Bob has told the story of Bob Marcum's suggestion that be become less impartial and more of a homer, a rah-rah cheerleader for the home team. Fulton recoiled at the idea and declined, ignoring the veiled threat from one of the parade of athletics directors who passed though the Roundhouse during his tenure.
Marcum would be gone long before Fulton , who represented a beacon of consistency in the sea of instability that often swirled around Carolina athletics.
Bob Fulton called Carolina games through nine football coaches, starting with Rex Enright and ending with Brad Scott. In his years, 10 men presided over the basketball program, from Frank Johnson to Eddie Fogler.
Football players ranged from Clyde Bennett early to Steve Taneyhill late with a generous dose of Jeff Grantz and George Rogers and Tommy Suggs and Sterling Sharpe and Todd Ellis in between. In basketball, he called games featuring Jack Neeley in the beginning to Carey Rich at the end with a posse of All-Americans and a couple of national scoring champions in between.
Search his soul, and Fulton will say he enjoyed working basketball most, and the Frank McGuire years provided a dose of excitement that cannot be measured. Those teams, from the mid-1960s until the mid-1970s, captured the state's heart like little else, and Fulton 's words provided the link with Camelot.
He called the triumphs - the win over Duke on Dec. 6, 1965, that really launched the McGuire Era, back-to-back road conquests of Duke and North Carolina in 1968, the undefeated ACC regular season, the ACC Tournament championship and the NCAA Tournament victories. He called the losses, too, including the most painful - the double-overtime setback to N.C. State in the 1970 ACC Tournament finals.
Through them all, he called the games down the middle in a style to admire. Sure, he wanted the Gamecocks to win, and of course he enjoyed better relationships with some coaches, but he never compromised his standards.
His impact on Carolina athletics cannot be overstated, a fact emphasized once more by the legion of fans who turned out on a cold December night to sing Happy Birthday to the Voice of the Gamecocks.