Former Bears and White Sox announcer Joe McConnell dies at 79

CHICAGO – For sports fans around the country, especially those in the Windy City, he was a recognizable voice through the years in both college and professional sports.

That’s why the announcement of the death of longtime play-by-play broadcaster Joe McConnell on Sunday at the age of 79 invoked a number of memories from a number of different fan bases.

In Chicago, McConnell was the voice of the Bears from 1977-1984, just as the team was returning to prominence after well over a decade of obscurity. He was on the call for playoff seasons in 1977, 1979, and 1984 when the Bears made it all the way to the NFC Championship.

His most famous call, however, came on October 7, 1984, when he announced Walter Payton’s NFL rushing record-breaking carry against the Saints at Soldier Field.

McConnell also handled White Sox broadcasts from 1980-1984 – and was on the radio call for the team’s 1983 American League West Division Championship. That included the radio call of the White Sox Game 1 victory over the Orioles in Baltimore in the American League Championship series with Early Wynn, which was the team’s only playoff victory from 1960-2004.

The play-by-play announcer also was on a number of national NBA radio broadcast through the years, including the Bulls’ first three-peat. Part of his call on John Paxson’s game-winning three-pointer in the championship-clinching Game 6 win over the Suns in Phoenix is in the video below.

McConnell also had the call for a few college teams in the area, including Northwestern football (1988) and basketball (1989-1994), Illinois basketball (1987-1988), DePaul basketball (1984-1988), and Notre Dame (1987-1988) for various outlets.

Local fans of Purdue would recognize him as the football “Voice of the Boilermakers” from 1995-2009, when he retired from broadcasting.