I received a call Sunday after returning home from a Memorial Service for a dear friend. When my phone buzzed I saw it was the "legendary" Voice Mail Vinny. I was not in the mood to talk (yes very selfish of me) and when I heard his message I was punched in the gut again. He informed me that a gent who was more than just a good bud Gary Salzinger had drowned. Many do not know who Gary was and all I can say that there are good odds he affected a sporting event you were watching, listening to or had attended. Gary was an unsung hero...a STAT maven who worked NFL games, HS games plus was a fixture doing Crunch statistics during their run of two championships in 3 years. But Gary was much more than that...he was truly the ultimate mensch...a particularly good person, a "stand-up guy", a person with the qualities one would hope for in a friend or trusted colleague.
Years after doing Crunch games (I was the PBP voice from '93 - '96) Gary would stop me and talk about being at the Wolstein Center. He would mention FIRST that he remembered me always putting pictures of my new son and daughter plus #DonnaStrong on my mixing board so they were right there with me at the games. The we would talk about the games. There are more stories that will being tears to your eyes demonstrating this mans goodness. I was told that upon leaving the Stadium when the Browns beat the Bills in the playoffs Gary consoled Bills fans. That is a special gent. Gary took bags of groceries to family, friends and strangers who were struggling and gave them a shoulder.
Last year Gary called me to note he was doing stats for the Mayfield vs Hoban DII Football playoff game and asked if I needed anything special during the game. Mayfield HS asked him to come on board and be their guy. As the game progressed he was handing me pieces of paper with stats as plays happened! Gary always put the other person first and always had a smile. Many print journalists owed making deadlines to his stats.
There is a reason I used the picture of an empty stadium to set the tone for this tribute. All stadiums across NE Ohio will be empty along with their press boxes no matter how many fans are in attendance this year feeling the void of NO GARY SALZINGER. RIP dear friend.