His voice has been the soundtrack of UNLV athletics for four decades. Longtime Rebel fans know the cadence of his famous calls.
“Let’s roll out the red carpet for your … Rrrrrrunnin’ Rebels!”
If it has happened on the basketball court or football field at UNLV, odds are Dick Calvert has been right there to tell Rebel fans about it. He has been the public address announcer for more than 3,600 sporting events in Southern Nevada, including about 3,400 UNLV games.
Calvert called his first UNLV basketball game in 1971. He can’t name his favorite highlight in the years since, but he won’t hesitate to tell you that his favorite Rebel squad was the “Hardway Eight” team that rocked the Las Vegas Convention Center in the mid-’70s. He was especially fond of the late Glen Gondrezick, a star from 1973-77 known for diving onto the floor, into the stands and wherever else he needed to go in pursuit of a loose ball. (Calvert later hired “Gondo” to do color for UNLV radio broadcasts in the early ’90s.) In those years, the Convention Center became the place to see and be seen; Calvert named the courtside seats “Gucci Row” because of the celebrities and casino executives who filled them.
Calvert, 74, first came to Southern Nevada while working as scouting supervisor for the Los Angeles Dodgers following a minor-league career as a catcher. And while he was successful as a scout, signing longtime Dodgers third baseman Ron Cey, Calvert sought a better way to support his wife, Anne, to whom he has been married for 54 years, and their four children.
Calvert managed to land a job as UNLV’s basketball game announcer despite having no formal experience. Since then, he has worked for every athletic director in the history of the university, serving as director of broadcasting, director of athletic marketing for Olympic sports and director of athletic facilities and operations. And though semi-retired now, he still works his “summer gig” with the Las Vegas 51s as a host for visiting executives and scouts.
Calvert also is on the board and nominating committee for the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame, and while he usually emcees the induction ceremony, he had a different role this year: He was one of the inductees in the 2010 class.
Of course, someone who talks for a living is bound to make a few mistakes over four decades—Calvert can never forget referring to Michael Jordan as “Michael Jackson” before a 1996 NBA exhibition game at the Thomas & Mack Center. But it’s hard to imagine a UNLV game without him.
“I’ve got the best seat in the house,” he says. “I get to do something I enjoy doing. As long as I can do it properly and they’re going to continue to pay me, I’ll continue to fool them.”