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LEITNER STRIKES AGAIN

Chris Ello
June 19, 2018 - 5:49 am
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Ted Leitner is the only guy I have ever seen who has such a wonderful gift of gab that he can sit down in front of a microphone for three hours, with no notes, no internet -- nothing going on in front of him whatsoever -- and still make it must-listen radio.

In other words, you could tune into him tonight at 7 p.m. right here on 97.3 The Fan and still very much enjoy listening to him even if he weren't calling the Padres baseball game against the Oakland Athletics. But thankfully, he is calling the game.

With news late last week that our Uncle Teddy is cancer-free and would be returning to the booth tonight, all is right in San Diego once again. Maybe his cancer scare was something we all needed just a little bit -- not only to remind ourselves to enjoy every day and that nothing is ever guaranteed to us -- but also to remind us how lucky we are to have one of the best, and certainly one of a kind, in our midst.

I sat right next to Ted Leitner for five seasons on Aztecs football broadcasts and I'm happy to report that they were the most challenging five seasons of my career. He never told me what to do, but at the same time he made sure I did it well. He never told me how to do it, either, but in order to keep up with him I had to perform at my very best.

Most of times, looking back, my best probably wasn't good enough. I'll never forget the night in Reno when the Aztecs scored the winning points on a gutsy, two-point conversion play called by Rocky Long in overtime -- and I jumped all over Ted's call. "Whoo-hoo!!!!" I screamed as the winning pass was still floating in the air toward an open SDSU receiver. It was the ultimate no-no for a color announcer. To wreck the call of a legendary broadcaster.

By saying nothing, he taught me everything. 

We often sat nearby each other on airplane rides to and from Aztec football games. I would share some of my downloads of the brilliant comedian George Carlin with him, and he would listen to them and laugh out loud. Then he'd get me to listen to some of the stuff he found to be brilliant, music performed by the incomparable Ray Charles.

"How's Ted doing?" my wife would always ask after our road trips together. "I don't know. All right, I guess," would always come my reply. It wasn't because I was trying to keep anything from her, it was just that...well how do you describe to someone else the priceless, quality time you just spent with a mind so interesting and informative that it felt as if you had just thumbed through an encyclopedia?

If you've ever listened to him do a radio talk show, or seen him handle a television sports cast, you most likely understand what I mean. He didn't preach to you, but he did teach to you.

And you'll probably learn something more tonight when you tune him in for the Padres-A's game. And you'll enjoy. And you'll be glad he's back. He's our Uncle Teddy, after all. And he always seems to have something interesting to say. 

So glad he's back. We definitely have the need to hear it.