HONOLULU (KHON2) — Jim Leahey, the legendary broadcaster for University of Hawaii Athletics, passed away Monday, Jan. 30 at the age of 80.
The 2016 UH Circle of Honor inductee was known for his strong vocabulary and knowledge of local culture. The University of Hawaii said Monday that his “iconic and colorful calls have been stamped into our collective memories,”
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The calls always matched the moment.
“First thing comes to my mind is just almost like ‘Could this be the year you better believe this is’,” former UH football quarterback Garrett Gabriel said of Leahey’s legendary call of the ‘Bows 1989 56-14 drubbing of the rival BYU Cougars. “Those, those things they call back brings you back to a spot,”
For many Rainbow Warriors and Wahine, hearing Leahey call your name meant that you made it to the big time.
“Growing up, all I used to hear is Jim Leahey on the television and the radio. And, so, when I decided to play Wahine basketball and have him call [my name] at all of our games, it was magic,” former Rainbow Wahine basketball All-American Nani Cockett said.
The vocabulary level, to use an ‘Uncle Jim’ term, was Ruthian.
“When we weren’t playing, I listened to basketball, mainly baseball, just to hear him and I would enjoy it and I kind of compared him to Vin Scully,” former Rainbow Wahine head coach Dave Shoji said. “I used to watch or listen to Vin Scully on radio. And, so, it’s just very entertaining to me. He was just so local and, you know, he had that style. And, his vocabulary was pretty neat,”
“There was never a dull moment. He always threw in some quips, and it was such a pleasure to listen to him and just a true honor for him to call my games,” former Rainbow Wahine All-American volleyball player Nikki Taylor said.
Even for the home team, Leahey told it like it was.
“I was waiting for my home run to break the UH career homerun record, but I was in a really bad slump so it wasn’t coming,” former Rainbow Wahine softball All-American Kelly Elms [Majam] said. “And, he says during that game she’s right on the cusp of history, but her batting average is in absolute freefall,”
Jim retired in 2018, paving the way for his son Kanoa to take over as the voice of the ‘Bows. The third in the line of the royal Leahey lineage began with Jim’s dad, Chuck.
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“Three generations that are just amazing,” Shoji said. “And, they’re all different. They’re all different. Kanoa is different from Jim, but they get everything right. It’s just so enjoyable to listen to all of them.”