Before last week’s Bass Fishing Hall of Fame induction ceremony fades too far into the rearview mirror, I wanted to offer one last thought about the inductees. While nonagenarian Berkley Bedell wowed me, Gary Klein and KVD were shoo-ins, and Helen Sevier could probably buy them all (James Henshall, who died 93 years ago, slightly before Bedell caught his first fish, could not muster the “Weekend at Bernie’s” ability to attend), it would be irresponsible not to give broadcaster Tommy Sanders some love in print.
His mellifluous voice has described and defined just about every major moment in our sport for the past quarter century. He’s half Vin Scully, half Morgan Freeman, with the occasional pinch of John Madden to keep you on your toes. Moreover, while I’m sure he studies the anglers, the fisheries and the history, everyone I know who has watched him broadcast said he’s “one take Tommy.” Fully formed paragraphs, the kind it would take most of us hours to write and rewrite, just flow off his tongue, whether he’s describing Seth Feider’s flow or hosting his book review show on Arkansas Educational Television.
Most importantly, though, Tommy is one of the nicest guys in the business. I don’t profess to know him well – a few times a year we’ll either chat at a cocktail party or we’ll find each other in the same elevator at the Classic hotel, but EVERY SINGLE TIME he makes me feel like a million bucks. He’ll remark on something I’ve published that day, or the week before, and while I’ll initially be unsure as to whether he actually read it, he’ll then answer my unstated question by pointing out some factoid or anecdote that I’d described. I’m sure he makes everyone -- from the anglers, to his bosses at BASS, to the fans who no doubt crowd him at tournaments – feel exactly the same way. You allow him into your living room electronically because it’s obvious to anyone with even a sliver of sense that he’s the type of person you’d like to welcome into your home.