Beyond The Mic: Jay Walker’s Run To 300 Is Special
300 is a special number in sports.
A baseball player who bats three hundred is an elite hitter.
A pitcher who wins 300 career games (only 24 in baseball history) is a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame, with the one exception being Roger Clemons.
The dynastic NBA champion Golden State Warriors won every playoff game last season in which they passed the ball 300 or more times. In their two playoff losses (to San Antoinio and New Orleans), they couldn't reach the magic number.
NFL's history books of the best receiving games in league history are 6 occasions of a player going for 300+.
Only 2 NFL head coaches (Don Shula, George Halas) have ever won more than 300 games.
Only 34 NHL goaltenders, past and present, are part of the 300 win club.
300 is the perfect score in bowling.
You get the point.
In 2009, I had the pleasure of working color commentary for the Louisiana Ragin' Cajun football game at Nebraska. For the Cornhuskers, the game marked their 300th consecutive sellout. The milestone was celebrated throughout Lincoln, as fans made signs and work T-shirts to commemorate the occasion.
It was one of several games I worked with my friend and weekday radio show cohort Jay Walker, the play-by-play radio voice of Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns.
I'm one of a large number - not quite 300 - that has worked with Walker.
Jay has had many broadcast partners over the years, from his days as a disc jockey, to sports on TV and the radio.
Mary Galyean, Rich Sheubrooks, Don Allen, Ross Cook, Ray Sutley, Steve Peloquin, Dan McDonald, Mike Mitchell, Gerald Broussard, Richie Falgout, Jeff Schneider, Brad Topham, Jude Walker, Travis Webb, Cody Junot, Billy Ryckman, Chris Lanaux and many others.
Moving into the future, I expect the number to grow.
"Jay makes Cajun fans comfortable," says Peloquin. "They trust him, and the trust wasn't built overnight. A milestone broadcast speaks to the years of hard work he's put into it."
As talented individuals come and go in the broadcast booth, Jay Walker has been a constant as the "voice of the Ragin' Cajuns" for many years.
"Dunk you very much!"
These phrases are synonymous with Louisiana football and basketball. As you just read both phrases, chances are, you heard Jay Walker's voice in your head calling an exciting moment.
Walker worked in TV sports broadcasting in the late 80's in early 90's, working several aspects of broadcasting, including play-by-play. He joined the radio broadcast booth as color analyst in 1992 next to Don Allen.
While Walker has been the radio play-by-play voice of Louisiana since 2001, the home opener that season didn't mark his first time doing play-by-play on the radio for the Ragin' Cajuns.
"I remember when we went to Louisiana Tech in football in the mid 90's," explained Don Allen. "I was hit with a gall bladder attack during the game in Ruston. I got through the first half and that was it. I told 'You have to take it'. I went in the booth next to us and had to lay in a chair, that's how bad it was. That was Jay's first play-by-play experience doing UL, and I didn't hear any of it."
For those who didn't hear Walker doing play-by-play that day, chances are, they've heard him in the years since.
Longevity in sports broadcasting isn't easy. A rigorous travel schedule, time away from loved ones, shuffling other work-related responsibilities to ensure you can bring the game into the eardrums of sports fans everywhere takes effort that goes unseen by the masses.
"Although only have been working alongside Jay through 5 games, I've followed him for many years as an avid listener during live Ragin' Cajun sporting events," says Chris Lanaux, current color analyst for UL football. "Jay has a natural gift for taking the listener inside the game. He is the consummate professional who is always prepared and enjoys doing what he does. A legend in the ears of Acadiana, but a friend in the hearts of everyone."
This Saturday is the end of a week-long celebration at UL. Homecoming week began yesterday, and wraps up Saturday night with the matchup between Louisiana and New Mexico State at Cajun Field.
Something else needs to be celebrated Saturday afternoon by Ragin' Cajun fans everywhere. Jay Walker's 300th football broadcast.
From the lows, to the highs, Louisiana Ragin' Cajun football on the radio would not be what it is today without Jay Walker.
After all, 300 in sports is a special number.