Joe Tait, who was a Cleveland sports player for more than four decades, has died at age 83 at his home in Ohio. Her daughter confirmed the death, which was attributed to numerous health issues.
The Cavaliers organization issued the following statement regarding Tait’s death:
“The Cleveland Cavaliers mourn the passing of one of our beloved Founding Fathers and the original, longtime voice of the franchise – Joe Tait.
“From the team’s inception in 1970 through the next four decades, the Basketball Hall of Famer has informed, entertained and inspired generations of Cavs fans – painting a picture of the game with an unparalleled blend of passion, precision and of humor.
“A devoted husband and father – generous with his talent and his wit – Joe has received all of the major sports broadcasting awards during his career in Northeast Ohio. And like some of the most legendary horsemen he’s chronicled, Joe joined them with his own banner hanging from the rafters of Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
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“A friend and mentor to many over the years, Joe Tait was not just a member of the Cavaliers family; he was a part of Cavs history like no one else and his unique and heartfelt voice and perspective reverberate throughout the history of the team. He will be sorely missed.
“Joe was also famous for his dry wit and pragmatic outlook on life and probably wouldn’t have wanted a big, sentimental outing. So, to paraphrase the legend, itself – let’s not say “goodbye”. Let’s just say, “Have a good night, everyone!” “
Born in Illinois and a graduate of Monmouth College, Tait began in sports broadcasting calling the Ohio Bobcats games, and later Indiana University football.
In Monmouth, he befriended the head basketball coach of another small college. It was Bill Fitch, and when he got a job in the NBA, Tait wrote to congratulate him.
Fitch asked Tait to audition for the role of the voice played by the radio of the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was hired with the 1970 first season already underway. He called the team’s first victory after 15 straight losses.
He spent a brief spell calling the games of the New Jersey Nets and Chicago Bulls in the early 1980s after a dispute with Cavaliers owner Ted Stepien, but returned to the team and integrated into the culture. of the Cavs. His slogans included “Wham with a right / left hand!”, “To the line, to the lane…” and “3 balls… OK!”
Tait went on to call the Cleveland Indians baseball on the radio, going on television in 1980 to call the games on WUAB 43. One of the highlights was Tait’s call on May 15, 1981, when the pitcher of Cleveland, Len Barker, pitched a perfect game to beat the Toronto Blue Jays. 3-0.