Bob Fulton died Wednesday at age 89, and his passing triggered a flood of memories.
Some good, not so good.
As "The Voice" of the University of South Carolina athletic teams, Fulton called the action for the football and basketball teams. Growing up in Aiken, I spent many a fall afternoon listening to Fulton and sidekick Tommy Suggs call the action from Williams-Brice Stadium and venues across the Southeast.
In the 1970s and 1980s, TV coverage was nowhere near what it is today. Fans today are spoiled by TV coverage of almost every football game their favorite team plays, and they also have the Internet as an option.
With South Carolina, television appearances were few and far between in those days. So I relied on Fulton's rich, baritone voice to describe the action.
My earliest memories of listening to Fulton go back to the late 1970s, when the Gamecocks were starting to have some success under Jim Carlen. A young running back named George Rogers also was doing some big things on the field.
In 1979, South Carolina played host to rival Clemson in Columbia. The Gamecocks had not gotten the best of the Tigers since a 56-20 thrashing in 1975, so I was on pins and needles that day. Big Willie Scott caught a key pass, and the Gamecocks held a 13-9 lead late in the fourth quarter.
But here came the Tigers, and QB Billy Lott led Clemson downfield in what seemed to be record speed. With me hanging on the edge of my seat, Fulton described the scene and when he blurted out a final IN-com-PLETE on Lott's final attempt, I breathed a sigh of relief.
In 1980, Rogers and the Gamecocks embarked on a journey I will never forget. While my Dad helped me with some yard work I had been paid to do, we tuned in the radio to keep up with the Gamecocks as they tried to beat Michigan in the "Big House" at Ann Arbor. Fulton delivered the happy news as South Carolina held on for a 17-14 victory.
Later that year, I listened with great sadness as Fulton described Clemson's 27-6 upset victory over South Carolina. It was the first time Clemson wore its all-orange uniforms, and the win propelled the Tigers to a national championship the following season.
Fulton also carried me through the 1984 season, which turned out to be the best in school history. He got caught up in the emotion, too, as the Gamecocks marched to a 9-0 record. During an interview with Fulton last year, on the 25th anniversary of that season, he told me about a "feeling" he had before the game at Navy.
In a talk to the Spartanburg Touchdown Club the Friday before the game against Navy, Fulton issued a statement that drew laughs from the crowd. But it was prophetic.
"At the end of my talk I said I want to tell you all something, watch out for that game tomorrow afternoon," Fulton recalled. "You never want to play a service team on their final home game. You get 140 percent. Everybody laughed."
When he arrived in Maryland later that night, Fulton found the team too relaxed.
"The ball club was playing pinball machines, I thought everyone was too loose," he said. "They stopped us on a drive, and they just beat us badly."
Fulton called his final game for South Carolina in 1995, and fittingly it was the Gamecocks' first-ever bowl win. That it was the Carquest Bowl didn't matter.
I had the chance to talk to Fulton on a handful of occasions. He was always pleasant, and happy to talk about his favorite subject: the Gamecocks.
I will fondly remember his booming voice, which was the soundtrack for a large portion of my youth. Really, it was the inflection that I enjoyed so much.
Whenever the Gamecocks scored, Fulton would exclaim "Touch-DOWN CAR-olina." I still remember those calls.
Or how he described QB Steve Taneyhill: "Taneyhill, a 6-5 SOPH-omore from Al-TOON-A, Pennsylvania."
He was one of a kind, and will never be replaced.
RIP, Bob Fulton. We'll surely miss you.