The Book Review: Play By Play.The Life and Times of Pat Connolly. As told to Joel Jacobsen. (Halifax: Nimbus), $19.95, 156 pages.
In 2012, Nova Scotia, and, for that matter Canada, lost a broadcast legend. While best known as being sportscaster and play-by-play man, who wrote and broadcasted about hockey in print, on radio and television in in Halifax, Dartmouth, Chatham, Ontario and Flin Flon, Manitoba, Pat Connolly (1928-2012) also covered politics and business during a life that included community work and a dedicated family life.
Beginning with a foreword and preface written by Joel Jacobsen, who reflects on how communication technology has evolved over the 50 years that he knew Connolly, 25 of which were spent as a colleague at the Chronicle-Herald, Jacobsen’s prose bring Connolly’s story to life.
Growing up the son of devout Roman Catholic parents in Cape Breton, Connolly recalls the closeness that he and his family enjoyed, something he felt should be admired, especially when juxtaposed against the disconnected and dysfunctional nature of many post-modern families.
When Connolly was 21, he was approached to be a play-by-play man for some Cape Breton Senior Hockey League playoff games. From there, Connolly recalls how Foster Hewitt, the “King of Hockey Broadcasters,” offered him advice between periods at Maple Leaf Gardens between the Sydney Millionaires and Toronto Marlboros during the 1949 Allan Cup.
Connolly recalls calling games for the Flin Flon Bombers of the Saskatchewan Jr. Hockey League before moving to CJCH in Halifax. In 1954, it was off to CBC Halifax for Connolly. It wasn’t long before Connolly was back doing hockey on CJCH radio, where he felt most comfortable. Simultaneous TV gigs on CJCH and ATV soon followed.
Connolly couldn’t pass up a job at CFCO in Chatham, Ontario before returning home calling the Halifax Voyageurs on CFDR Radio in 1967.