CLEVELAND — Where do you start when you think about 35 years of covering sports in Northeast Ohio? What moments stand out the most?
For 'the Voice of the Browns,' Jim Donovan, it naturally starts with the team that plays by the lakefront.
"The 1986-87 Browns, because they had everything. And I had never seen the city turned upside down like it was. They had everything. Bernie Kosar, Mack and Byner, you had the Dawgs on defense starting all of that barking with Hanford Dixon and Frank Minnifield. It was an amazing ride."
How about the Indians?
"In 1995, Game 6 and the Indians are ahead in the American League Championship Series in Seattle against Randy Johnson. We had the rights to do clubhouse interviews and here I am getting champagne poured all over me as the Indians are going to the World Series. It was so historical that baseball was really back in Cleveland after it had been a sleeping giant for so many years."
Not long after the pageantry of the Indians' first trip to the Fall Classic since 1954 came one of the town's lowest moments. The decision by Browns owner Art Modell to move the team to Baltimore in November of 1995.
"To lose the Cleveland Browns was really sad," Jimmy recalls. "The sad part was we supported the football team, but little did we know that the guy who owned it was a pauper. Art Modell couldn't buy you a corned beef sandwich and Slyman's, he was so broke. In the landscape of ownership of sports at that time and certainly now, you have to be wealthy and he wasn't."
Fast forward to 2016. Game 7. NBA Finals.
"We were just all ready for another tough loss. Another heartbreaker. There was a period of time where the game was tied late and neither team could score. But as a Cleveland sports fan you're thinking, 'they're gonna score and the Cavs are gonna lose.' Then suddenly Kyrie Irving hits that shot. You had to pinch yourself that you were living in the present and that Cleveland had finally won a championship."
Of course, we all want to hear Jimmy someday get an opportunity to call a Super Bowl as the voice of the Cleveland Browns. In the meantime, he remains proud of his work in the booth.
"To be the voice of the Cleveland Browns is something that never gets old. I can hear sometimes when you're walking in public and someone points you out as the 'Voice of the Browns.' To be that person is something that I worked very, very hard for and continue to work very, very hard at it. It is something that career-wise I will be most proud of."
We're proud to have you in Cleveland, Jimmy. Here's to another 35 years!