KEY TO THE CITY - USA City Directory Top USA City Resource Guide
2002, August 5
Death of Chick Hearn - Long-time Los Angeles Lakers Announcer
Chick Hearn (27 November 1916 - 5 August 2002) died today from complications following brain surgery. He fell in the backyard of his Encino home and struck his head. He was 85 years old. He was born Francis Dayle Hearn in Aurora, Illinois. His nickname of Chick came about when friends played a joke on him during his days as an amateur basketball player. They gave him a box which he thought held some sneakers, but instead, he found a chicken when he opened the box.
He and his wife, Marge, would have been married 64 years on August 13. They had two children, a girl and a boy, but both died prior to their father. They have a close relationship with their granddaughter, Shannon, and her family.
Chick was the only play-by-play announcer the Los Angeles Lakers ever had. He became the announcer at the start of the 1960-61 season when the team moved to Los Angeles from Minneapolis. He set an unprecedented record of calling 3,338 consecutive Lakers games beginning on 21 November 1965, at the LA Sports Arena, before he missed a game in December 2001 because of heart surgery for a blocked aortic valve. During his recovery, he fell and broke a hip. Nevertheless, true to his past efforts, Hearn returned to work on April 9th to broadcast the Lakers' playoff games. Before the streak began, he had only missed two games, both for reasons out of his control - a previous engagement to call another game and bad weather which grounded his plane. When the Lakers moved their home to the Staples Center in 1999, the press room was named for Chick Hearn.
Chick was known for coining many basketball phrases that have become standard in the sport. Among these are: Slam Dunk, Air Ball, Dribble drive, Finger roll, No-look pass, Give and go, Ticky-tack foul, Triple-double, Throws up a brick, Pressure cooker, Picked his pocket, Charity Stripe and Garbage Time.
Hearn also had a trademark saying when he felt the Lakers had pretty much wrapped up a game. Anyone who has ever listened to a Lakers game will recognize the phrase
Chick Hearn first called a Lakers game in March 1961 and called his last game on 12 June 2002 when the Lakers completed their sweep of the New Jersey Nets in the NBA Finals and earned their ninth NBA title since coming to LA in 1960. He is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and the American Sportscasters Hall of Fame. The Lakers will never be the same without him. He will be greatly missed by all.
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