Bob Nagle reflects on 43 years covering Notre Dame sports
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Bob Nagle is the radio play-by-play voice of the Fighting Irish women's basketball team. Over the course of his 43 year career he has been on press row for some of the greatest moments in Notre Dame sports history. And for Nagle, the best is yet to come.
"Just loved the idea of someday seeing it. Not on a game day, just seeing it before you died, you know," Nagle said.
What started out as a dream, turned into a way of life for Bob Nagle,
Nagle was raised Irish Catholic and moved to Mishawaka with his parents and 5 brothers and sisters in 1966 where his love for Notre Dame football grew.
"I had a chance to get to know Ara Parseghian. I used to go out when they had practice and I would get his autograph when he was on his way to the locker room and then his autograph walking to Cartier Field. Now this was before the Joyce Center was built or finished anyway. So you'd wait or go get a burger or something over at the Huddle and then you'd be there when they got done practicing. I'd get his autograph again, walking with him and he'd say 'Didn't I just give you an autograph?' 'Yeah, my cousin's not feeling well and I told him I'd get him one,'" Nagle said.
A little guy with a big personality, he found his voice at Mishawaka's Marian High School.
"I was too small for football. My freshman year I was 5-foot-2, 180 pounds. My sophomore year I was 5-foot-3 185. So, I was getting beat up every day by high school All-Americans. Our head coach, Bob Otolski, who was a Hall of Famer, he said 'Nags I tell you what, you're going to get beat up out there. Why don't you run our new video tape equipment?" Nagle said.
What he lacked in size, Nagle made up for with a booming voice.
He took his first job with a local radio station in his early 20s.
"My first year in broadcasting was 1977, the football team won the National Championship," Nagle said.
That same year Nagle began calling games for Notre Dame.
"The following spring in March, Notre Dame men's basketball went to their only Final Four in St Louis and I got to be part of that," Nagle said.
From men's basketball to Frozen Fours for hockey, the College World Series for baseball and two National Championships for women's basketball.
He has become a staple in Michiana media for more than 40 years and he has the stories and impersonations to prove it.
"Coach Holtz rode over in his golf cart, pulled out his pipe, he says 'Bob, I'm going to tell you something. Our offensive line is in disarray.' I said, 'Coach, I can see that.' He says, 'Let me ask you a question. Bob, do you have any eligibility left?' I said, 'Well as a matter of fact I do.' And as he drove away he says, 'That doesn't surprise me in the least,'" Nagle said.
You can find Nagle on Notre Dame's campus most days.
While Nagle was living out his dream at Notre Dame, his father realized a lifelong dream of his own.
"My father was involved, the last 9 years of his life he was the superintendent for Ellerbe Architects on campus and was involved in building about a dozen buildings out there. And he said, 'I always told my mother I'd go to Notre Dame some day and I go there every day now,'" Nagle said.
That love for Notre Dame was passed down through generations. Two of Nagle's three children work at Notre Dame and his wife Mary Carol just retired after 42 years at the university.
As they sit on the porch of his childhood home, where he raised his own family, they're embracing the next chapter of life.
He contemplates his own future, borrowing from his friend Lou Holtz.
"'The secret to success is find something you love to do and see if somebody will pay you to do it.' So I don't want to retire. I used to always get mad at Harry Carey and Jack Brickhouse, you know, 'Why don't you guys retire? You're 75 or whatever.' But I totally get it now. You love what you do. Love preparing for games. I love to travel and seen so many great moments. Lou Holtz had a famous saying, 'If you do what you love to do for a living, you don't ever have to go to work.' So, I'm not sure I've been to work yet," Nagle said.