Memories from the Press Box: Pat Perry

Oct. 8, 2009

At the conclusion of the 2009 football season, the existing press box, which dates to the 1950s, will be torn down. Over the last several decades, countless memorable moments have been witnessed from the nerve center of the stadium.

In honor of this last season with the proud, old press box, an on-going feature called "Memories From the Press Box" will run on and in each U-M football game program. Written by the individuals who witnessed these moments from above, "Memories" will offer a different perspective of the events many of us remember after seeing them in person or watching them on TV. In some cases, it's describing pre-game rituals, in many cases, it's a specific game or play that took their breath away. Sportscasters, former coaches, athletic department staff, University President Mary Sue Coleman, they are but a few of the contributors who will be featured weekly. We hope you enjoy it! Echoes of the Old "Box"

Tongue Twisters in the Press Box
By Pat Perry / Former Internal Press Box Announcer

My official position at the Michigan Athletic Department was supervisor of the athletic scholarship program for men and women, but on home football Saturdays, I was a volunteer in the press box as the internal PA announcer for the media. My announcing policy was to convey in a minimum of words the official yardage, according to the stat crew, and proper pronunciation of names for the newspaper reporters, radio announcers and those on the photo deck.

Tim Biakabutuka, an outstanding freshman running back, came into my office one afternoon with a question about his scholarship, so what better chance did I have than to ask him how to pronounce his first name (Tshimanga). The media and even the coaches avoided saying his name and merely called him Tim. As chance would have it, the following Saturday, Tim got into the game and the freshman scored a touchdown and this was the first time his name was to be fully recognized. I never used first names on routine plays, only on scoring plays. Following Tim's touchdown, I announced, "Michigan's score came on a one-yard run by Ta-mun-gah Be-ah-ka-ba-tuka." The "no cheering in the press box" tradition was quickly broken by the media's sudden applause ... for which a female PA announcer was surprised and appreciative.

Pat Perry served as the internal public address announcer in the press box from 1980-2005. In 1968, her husband Will's first year as Sports Information Director, there was a policy of "No Women in the Press Box." Western Union operators, the only women in the press box, were the exception, and it was enforced. For Ron Johnson's five-touchdown game, she sat in the pouring rain outside.

In the early 1970's, the Michigan Daily sent a female reporter (a first for the press box), which incidentally coincided with the first females in the Michigan Marching Band ('72) and first female cheerleaders on the football field ('74). Then athletic director Don Canham volunteered Pat as the first advisor for the women, then known as Pom Pom girls.

Pat joined the press box stat crew in 1975. Then, in 1980, John Humenik became SID and discovered a pre-wired internal PA system in the press box. He wanted a different voice for game stats versus regular announcements and other game scores, resulting in Pat becoming the voice of the press box for 26 years.

Past Memories from the Press Box: Will Perry (10/1/2009) | Dick Gaskill (9/24/09) | Jim Meyer (9/17/09) | Frank Beckmann (9/10/2009) | John Borton (9/3/2009)

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