Brambletts will be missed

Published 6:24 pm Thursday, May 30, 2019

With the recent tragic death of Rod Bramblett, Auburn fans lost one of the best play-by-play announcers in the business. He did some amazing work in sportscasting. We’ll always remember “Go Crazy Cadillac!” in 2003, and the Kick Six call ten years later. It was clear he loved the team he covered, and like the Cadillac, he could go crazy in the broadcast booth.

Off the air, he was one of the nicest people you could ever meet. It’s sad we have lost the Voice of the Tigers and sad, too, that we’ve lost the best-known ambassador out there for the city of Valley.

“Rod was proud to say he was from Valley, Alabama,” said AU baseball coach Butch Thompson. “He often spoke with pride about his loving wife Paula and his amazing children.”

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Road graduated from Valley High in 1984. Paula grew up in Huguley and went to Lanett High.

Several weeks after the Kick Six game and Auburn’s run to the national championship game versus Florida State, Rod made it back to the Valley to speak to the West Point Lions Club. Rather than taking the direct route up the interstate to the meeting site at Riverside Country Club, he took the longer route, coming up the road we like to call Old 29.

He liked driving past Valley High, which brought back many fond memories, and Langdale Mill, where his grandfather, the late Boyd Cates, had been an assistant manager. The country club was special for him too. He played golf there in high school, and it was there where he proposed to Paula.

Rod, a Valley High grad, and Paula, a Lanett High grad, somehow fit perfectly together, rivalry and all.

While speaking to that packed crowd at the country club, Rod made the point that his home life was very different from his work life. Unlike him, Paula and the kids weren’t that much into sports. On the night of the Kick Six play when the Auburn Nation went absolutely bonkers, Rod made it back home rather late. His wife and kids were asleep by that time, and he liked it that way. Craziness is what one finds in the sports world — contentment is what one finds at home.

The Kick Six call he’d made earlier that evening is something he’ll always be remembered for and something Auburn fans everywhere will never forget. Rod was fond of using a rodeo term to describe it — riding the bull for eight seconds. Few announcers ever get a chance to describe something that dramatic. Veteran CBS announcer Verne Lundquist told Bramblett that he’d always considered his being able to call Jack Nicklaus’ win in the 1985 Masters at 46 the greatest privilege a sports announcer could hope for but after hearing Bramblett’s call on the Kick Six play he felt Bramblett had topped that.

Announcers live in the moment something is happening and sometimes do crazy things. “I think I kissed some men that night,” Bramblett said, recalling the exuberance of Auburn’s thrilling win over arch rival Alabama.

There was no way anyone could anticipate something like that happening and no way anyone could be prepared for it.

Rod’s first experiences in broadcasting took place at WZZZ/WCJM on West 4th Avenue in downtown West Point. It was in the 1980s, and he worked with Terrell Whaley, his son Leland and Steve Smoot. He credited Smoot for inspiring him to be a play-by-play announcer. It seems that one year, Rod and Leland wanted to be a broadcast team for the Valley High Rams, but Steve pulled rank on them because he’d sold more advertising. Rod was disappointed, but it left him determined to be a success one day as a play-by-play announcer.

After being named Alabama’s Sports Announcer of the Year three times and the nation’s Best Announcer for 2013 by Sports Illustrated, we can safely say he did that.

Valley and Huguley lost two great people, and Auburn University and the rest of the sports world lost a giant in the industry this past Saturday.