The end of an Era
NEW ULM – Gordy Palmer admits he had no idea what he was getting into 32 years ago when he agreed to be the public address announcer at New Ulm Cathedral football games.
Palmer’s voice has been heard by countless Cathedral football and baseball fans, as well as amateur baseball, legion and VFW baseball for a long time. But that run at Cathedral will come to an end after the Greyhounds play their final home games later this week in the Section 2A playoffs.
Palmer is a graduate of New Ulm Cathedral, so Cathedral sports runs in his blood. His work announcing spans three decades and three Athletic Directors at Cathedral (Stan Wilfahrt, John Vetter, Alan Woitas).
While the change will be different at first for him, he says it’s time to pass the torch, or mic if you will, on to the next person. Palmer said Bob Skillings will take over the announcing duties this fall for football.
“There’s gotta be a time for everything,” Palmer said. “Football and baseball has taken up a lot of my time. And I’m 80 years old and I just feel sometimes you have to say no.”
Palmer’s voice is one that’s distinct and is one that is recognized by even the casual fan who attends games at Johnson or Mueller Park. Even the opponents know who will be in the press box before the game starts.
“Even someone from Sleepy Eye said, ‘I know who’s going to be announcing, it’s Gordy, the old-timer,'” Palmer joked. “That’s good news when other people enjoy it too.”
Former long-time AD Vetter said it will be different at first hearing someone else doing the announcing.
“In a real sense, it’s the end of an era, because he’s been there so long and he’s announced for three athletic directors,” Vetter said.
Palmer started announcing Cathedral football under when Wilfahrt was the AD. He said he wasn’t sure how long he was going to do it, but his intentions were to help the school out in any way possible. After Vetter took over as AD, Palmer was approached by Vetter about sticking around and doing baseball for the school. And as they say, the rest is history.
“There was a time when Cathedral baseball games were not announced,” Vetter said. “I can’t remember the exact circumstances but I imagined what happened was Gordy was doing football and I asked him to help out with baseball.
“He’s loyal, reliable and certainly having the athletic events announced makes them more fun for the fans in the stands and the athletes as well,” Vetter said.
Along with Cathedral events, Palmer was also one of the original members of the New Ulm Legion Baseball Committee. He’s been announcing games for the summer baseball teams, including amateur, legion and VFW, along with serving on the Legion Committee.
His announcing career hasn’t gone unnoticed. Palmer has also been honored by the Minnesota Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association Service Award (MNIAAA), an award in which he’s the only person affiliated with Cathedral to have won. He’s also received the Distinguished Service Award from New Ulm Area Catholic Schools (NUACS) for all of the announcing that he’s done.
For Palmer, its been a long career, but one he’s enjoyed.
“I just like to volunteer and give back to my high school mainly,” he said. “My high school did a good job of giving me a good education. I like to give back to the community and I think the people enjoy it.”
Vetter said that having Palmer has made things easy for the high school and he’s done a fine job.
“I would say that Gordy is an individual who’s not sought out recognition,” Vetter said. “He’s done this for the love of the school, the love of the kids, the love of sports. He’s done this for all of the right reasons and that’s one of the reasons that he will be very greatly missed.”
In the meantime, Palmer will help out with announcing for games this summer. He thanked his wife Ruth, who has supported him over the years. He plans to go fishing and gardening, or maybe anything else he may have missed out on over the years.
“I will miss it, there’s no doubt about it,” Palmer said. “I’ll miss both [sports].”