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CITY'S GIFT TO BROADCASTING


CITY'S GIFT TO BROADCASTING
Today's Legend of Auburn is none other than Bob Socci who has made his mark in the field of sports broadcasting. And it all began for him back in good old Auburn.

What about this legend?

Both of Bob Socci's parents grew up in Auburn and were children of immigrants from Italy. His dad, Anthony, or "Socky" as he was known by most of his friends, served in World War II as an Army Air Corps tech sergeant. After the war, he returned to Auburn and eventually worked and retired from General Electric in Auburn.

Bob said "his dad was one of the most multi-talented people I've ever come across -- a skilled electrician, carpenter, craftsman and general handyman who worked around the clock for his many friends and family in the Auburn area."

Bob's dad died in August of 2000 at the age of 83 battling multiple myeloma.

Bob's mom, Marie, is a terrific gal, who is a great mom and friend to all who know her. She worked for years at the National Bank of Auburn and she still lives on Metcalf Drive in Auburn. Marie also is a valued RSVP volunteer and has given countless hours of service to Mercy Rehab.

Bob's early childhood was spent primarily in two places -- the Y-Field and Jack Graney's backyard.

Bob lived on Swift Street, next door to what became known as "Graney Gardens," site of countless afternoon "tennis ball" games between Joey Graney and Bob.

Jack would come home from work in Syracuse everyday in the summer and pitch to Joey and Bob.

When Bob was 3, Jack returned from a trip to Cooperstown with a New York Mets' Tom Seaver wool replica uniform for Bob. In subsequent years, Bob's mom, Marie, and Joe's mom, Sheila Graney, made other uniforms for the boys to wear.

So Bob would take the field in the Graney's backyard wearing a Johnny Bench or Reggie Jackson uniform and Joe would be out there in his Bud Harrelson or Ken Reitz uniform.

Jack also frequently took Joe and Bob to Cooperstown, and in 1980 and 1981, took them to Philadelphia to see the Phillies.

Bob said the memoriesof those days of Joe and he singing the National Anthem before their backyard games, pretending to be their big-league heroes and watching the Mets almost every night television, remain among his fondest memories.

Here is what Jack Graney had to say about Bob: "Both Bob and Joey loved Baseball and Bob's dad, Tony, was a real handyman, which was not my forte. So we had an unwritten agreement that he would do the handy work for both houses while I handled the Baseball playing and Baseball trips.

"Robert was a fun neighbor and he made for a lot of fun Baseball evenings. The Soccis were great next door neighbors, Marie, Tony, Bob and his brothers, Carl and Johnny."

Over the years, Robert has never forgotten the Graney family as tickets have arrived for Army-Navy games and Navy-Notre Dame games, courtesy of Bob.

Jack adds "that whenever he thinks of Baseball he thinks of Robert and his very successful broadcasting career. In addition to his Navy announcing, Robert has done a lot of minor league announcing in various parts of the country, and on Dec. 15 he is getting married to a very lovely lady, Dr. Monique Tello, who practices in Boston, where Robert will continue his sports announcing."

Bob met Marc DelPiano at Seward School in the second grade and they quickly became best friends. Marc's dad, Paul, was instrumental in Bob's teenage years, and like Jack spent countless hours with he and Marc, driving them to games, and practicing with them on the back fields at Auburn High or in winter working with them on the indoor batting cage.

Bob said he can't say enough about the role both Jack and Paul played in his youth, encouraging and fostering his love of sports and reinforcing all the values his parents tried to instill in him. He's been extremely fortunate to pursue his dreams in life and do what he loves for a living. Without either Jack or Paul, it wouldn't have been possible.

"The same goesfor others who greatly influenced me," said Bob. "People like Carl Festa, Bob Lee and the rest of the men who devoted themselves to Little League Baseball in Auburn. Recognizing I had a love and, hopefully, talent for announcing, they gave me the opportunity to be the public address announcer at Stewart Field, even while I was a member of the Local 3482 team. I'd play in the 6 o'clock game and then head upstairs in the press box to announce the 8 o'clock game.

"Carl also ensured that on Little League night at Falcon Park, I could do the announcing for the Astros game. And then there was Coach Tony LoCastro who let (me) announce the Auburn High jayvee basketball games."

In time, Bob was involved in almost every aspect of Little League Baseball -- working as a groundskeeper, announcer and umpire.

Bob became a very good Baseball player, and he and Matt Valentino were named co-captains of the undefeated 1985 Auburn High Maroons Baseball state champions.

After his freshman year at the University of Dayton in Ohio, Leslie Leary gave Bob his first job in professional Baseball, as the full-time announcer for the Auburn Astros. It gave Bob the opportunity to get to know someone who also became one of his most trusted friends, Gary Piccarillo.

Eventually, Bob started reporting and writing for Gary at the Citizen.

Later, as a junior in college, Bob landed an internship in the publicity department of the Cincinnati Reds . It was a tremendous opportunity to observe and learn from the men he admired most -- major league Baseball announcers like Vin Scully, Bob Murphy and Marty Brennaman.

Bob also hadthe chance to see up-close some very special and not so special events -- like the 1988 All-Star game , Tom Browning's perfect game in 1988 and the early evolution of the Pete Rose betting scandal.

Upon graduation, Bob completed coursework at the University of North Carolina in sports information and parlayed that experience into a media relations internship with the Rochester Red Wings, where he launched his broadcasting career.

After two seasons handling play-by-play for several innings of each home game with the Wings, Bob began an odyssey that took him from Peoria, Ill. to Salisbury, Md. calling minor league games.

While in Salisbury, with the Delmarva Shorebirds, Bob was hired by the U.S. Naval Academy, first on basketball broadcasts and later as the football play-by-play announcer.

Twelve years later, Bob is still calling Navy football as well as broadcasting Triple-A Baseball for Albuquerque and Norfolk for the last six years. And he continues to call college basketball for the Patriot League on ESPNU.

The Naval Academy is a very special place and it has introduced Bob to some extraordinary people and experiences. (There is nothing like the spirit of the Army-Navy game. Every sports fan should experience it in person.)

Last year, Bob was extremely fortunate to see Navy end its 43-game losing streak against Notre Dame, beating the Irish in triple overtime.

Speaking of sports fans, one of Bob's greatest fans is Jeffrey Long, from Auburn. Jeff listens to every Navy broadcast, and whenever he sees Bob's mom, Marie, or brother, John, at Wegmans, where Jeff works, he gives each of them a rundown of Bob's broadcast.

Bob told me to tell any of you young readers that have an interest in broadcasting, that he would be glad to help you out in any way possible.

As a sidelight of this article, I find it interesting that two former neighbors tied together by their love of Baseball, pictured here today have done so well for themselves.

Joe Graney wasthe youngest one of six adopted children of Sheila and Jack Graney, and at the age of 8 had open heart surgery.

Joe went on to become valedictorian of his graduation class at Auburn High and then graduated magna cum laude from Colgate University. Today, he has returned to Auburn and has a great reputation as an outstanding doctor, while Robert "Bob" Socci has gone on to a great career in broadcasting.

It goes to show you where a little pickup Baseball game may lead you to!

Thank you to Bob Socci and his family for being Legends of Auburn.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 28, 2008

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