Joe Carbury dead at 91

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Joe Carbury dead at 91

Postby albertaboy4life » Wed Oct 18, 2017 9:29 am

Former CFAC radio sportscaster (and salesman?) Joe Carbury has died. His hearty "And they're off . . ." and "Nice even start" will not be forgotten by those who heard him call thoroughbred and chuckwagon races at Stampede Park in Calgary. Joe also called play by play for the Calgary Centennials of the WCHL along with curling -

The iconic voice of the Calgary Stampede has been stilled.

Joe Carbury, who for 45 years called chuckwagon races in his inimitable style and made the gravelly “And they’rrrre off …” his signature line, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 91.

“He’s a Stampede legend,” said Billy Melville, chuckwagon historian and colour commentator on CBC-TV and radio. “His voice defined chuckwagon racing and the Calgary Stampede.

“He was a great guy, a good friend. I’m glad I was able, a couple of years ago, to get an oral history on him so we’ve been able to get that in the Stampede archives. Calgary lost a legend. His voice was so unique.”

Those who knew him described him as a class act all the way.

“Totally outgoing, good-hearted guy,” said John Down, who for many years covered chuckwagon racing for Calgary newspapers. “I don’t know if you could find anybody that would have anything bad to say about him. He was just a real good person.

“Everyone knew him for his voice. I remember we were in a grocery store one day and all of a sudden I heard this voice and it had to be three or four rows over and I said to my wife ‘Joe Carbury’s in the store’.

“There will never be another voice like Joe’s. Million dollar pipes. And he was happiest when he was in the Eye in the Sky.”

Carbury was from Winnipeg originally. He was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 2003.

“He was a real gem of a man,” said Melville. “He took the time to get to know the drivers and the outriders as people. He was a chuckwagon guy; he just had a different role.”

One of those drivers was Kelly Sutherland, on whom Carbury bestowed the nickname ‘The King’.

“He started announcing the same year I started driving ironically,” recalled Sutherland. “We became very close. He got to know the competitors and their families. He used to come visit prior to the Stampede and would call to get an update on who was running tough. He kept a real pulse on the sport all the time.

“He really grew to become attached to chuckwagon racing. He was one of the first guys who started to throw monikers to drivers, to put some excitement in the sport. The first time I ever heard it I was coming down the home stretch and when I got closer to the finish line, I heard Joe say ‘here comes the King and all the king’s men’. Pretty soon everyone called me that. But he was the one that hung it on me.”

His career in sports began in Medicine Hat in the late 1940s.

“It’s actually quite the story,” Melville related. “He started as salesman for Monsanto and they gave him a car and that was a big deal at the time. Monsanto was running some radio spots at a local station and he started talking sports with the station manager. The station manager out of the blue said to him ‘you have a pretty good idea about sports and we’re looking for a sports reporter’. He laid a few vocal tracks down and made an offer to hire him and it was a real tough decision for him because if he left Monsanto, he had to give the car back!”

That fateful decision changed Carbury’s life. He met his wife Rose, who was a nurse in Medicine Hat, later moved to Calgary and eventually began the long run into Calgary Stampede history.

He began his on-air career as play-by-play announcer for the Medicine Hat Tigers. He would also call CFL games, both in Calgary and Edmonton, as well as boxing matches. When he switched over to the horses, he started at the track as thoroughbreds announcer.

He called the chucks for 45 years, retiring in July of 2008.

“I knew of Joe Carbury for years and years,” said Les McIntyre, the man who would step into Carbury’s place. “When I first started announcing in 1985, I got into it unexpectedly and I went to Calgary to listen to Joe call horse races. Then I got to know him a few years later when I was doing more rodeo stuff. He was a very humble man. I had lots of people say ‘oh, you’ll replace Joe Carbury’. Well, you’ll never replace the voice. The position, yes, but the voice and the man you couldn’t replace.

“There’s only so many ways you can describe a chuck wagon race and he pretty much set the bar and set the ball rolling in that area,” McIntyre added. “Anybody who does it now … we all have Joe in the back of our minds when we’re doing it.” ... acing-dies
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Re: Joe Carbury dead at 91

Postby albertaboy4life » Wed Oct 18, 2017 10:06 am

One more story with a bit more on his career at the time of his retirement from the Calgary Stampede in 2008 -

Carbury leaving Stampede booth

Calgary Herald
12 Jul 2008

“There’s the horn and . . . they’rrrrrrre off!” If Joe Carbury didn’t have your attention before, he certainly has it now.

You might be partying down on the tarmac in the front of the grandstand, or mingling with friends in the clubhouse, but when the 79-year-old voice of the GMC Rangeland Derby starts the call of a chuckwagon race, you listen.

If it’s your first time at the sport’s richest and longest running show, your first reaction is to look skyward when you hear the voice. You may have never heard such a penetrating, gravelly sound and might want to make sure it isn’t coming from the Big Guy.

Well, look to the Eye in the Sky and listen carefully because Joe Carbury is packing up a 45-year run with the chuckwagons when he brings home the champion in the ninth heat Sunday night.

Counting almost another decade as the announcer for thoroughbred and harness racing, it will end more than a half-century on the Calgary Stampede’s microphone.

The former radio sportscaster made the decision earlier this year, simply saying it was time to step aside. Or in his words at the time: “It’s something I’ve been talking about for the last five years and now it’s time. Now it’s officially going to be official.

“I thought maybe it’d be nice to have summer off and do what other people my age do . . . walk around the golf course all day.”

To really appreciate Joe’s voice is to hear it when you drive your wagon in front of the grandstand for the first time as a competitor.

“I remember when I came out and he said, ‘here’s the third generation of the Glass family . . . welcome to town kid,’ ” and it sent a chill down my spine, says a smiling Tommy Glass, who went on to win four Rangelands before he retired in 2000.

Of all the families that competed in Calgary, Carbury probably got closest to the Glass family because he used to work with Iris Glass, Tommy’s mother and the sport’s undisputed first lady, doing radio reports for CKXL and CFAC “back in the old days.”

But it was an incident he recalls from the mid-1980s that bared the mettle of Iris Glass. Her son, outrider Rod Glass, was badly hurt in a race wreck, dying shortly afterward of his injuries.

“I thought, ‘Well, I won’t see Iris again,’ ” says Joe, “and damned if she wasn’t right back up the next night. She said, ‘You know, Joe, I might as well come up here and cry as sit down in the trailer and cry.’ She’s quite a woman.”

Carbury threw his voice out for consumption in 1949 in Medicine Hat, where he did play-by-play for the junior hockey Tigers. He moved to Calgary the following year and had stops in Hamilton and Edmonton as a CFL play-by-play man before returning to Calgary in the mid-1950s.

Again, he did Stampeders football, but was soon at the old Victoria Park calling the thoroughbred races after doing his regular radio sports reports. When he retired from radio in 1985, he’d racked up play-by-play at more than 1,000 junior and semi-pro hockey games, several hundred CFL games, some boxing matches and countless sports reports.

But it was always about the voice at the races, where he reckons he called more than 30,000 horse races and another 5,000 chuckwagon races.

Ask the 2003 inductee into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame to pick off some memories from the flat races, and he’s stuck. ... arbury-joe

“Isn’t that something, if I put my mind on rewind I might be able to pick something out, but my job was to mem- orize the field, memorize the colours, the names and I probably didn’t know the difference between a $1,500 claimer and a $75,000 stakes race.

“It was a horse race and my job was to call the race. It was the same thing every day. It might sound kind of silly that I called 30,000 races and can’t find one big highlight, but it’s the truth.” Wait, there was one thing. “We didn’t have any place in that old grandstand to go to the toilet,” he smiles, devilishly. “So if you’d consumed a fair amount of water or . . . hrummmph, coffee, going up to the races and had to go. . . .

“You had to climb up a ladder, go onto the old tar roof, see what direction the wind was blowing and . . . that’s how we relieved ourselves, so those were the tough old days. But we had a lot of fun up there.”

As the track announcer, however, it did lead to the job as chuckwagon announcer, one he was reluctant to add to his already burgeoning schedule. The thoroughbreds used to run races around the afternoon rodeo performances and someone put the bug in his ear that he might as well stick around and do the chuckwagons.

“I wasn’t too happy because, in those days, I was doing an early morning sportscast on CKXL at 6 a.m. and another one at noon, then it was off to the track to do the thoroughbreds that didn’t finish up until 5 p.m.

“In the meantime, everyone’s telling me about all the fun going on down there on the grounds, all the pretty ladies . . . anyway, they talked me into trying it for a week to see how it’d work out and 45 years later, here we are.”

There’s all kinds of toilets underneath the roof now, but many of the names haven’t changed when Joe made those first calls back in the mid1960s . . . Glass, Dorchester, Bensmiller, Walgenbach, Sutherland, Willard.

In the early days, the barrels were set tougher and wagons tipped over in just about every race. The stove racks, which carried 34-kilogram camp stoves, jutted out of the back of the wagon and often caused wrecks when horses came up too tight in a race.

There were tragedies. But most of them just keep coming back for more. Just like Joe.

“The Calgary Stampede is going to be a lot different without Joe Carbury,” says Buddy Bensmiller, a three-time champion who made his driving debut in 1979. “I mean, they’ll find someone to take his place, but as far as the voice . . . it’s been up there for more than 40 years and it’ll be tough to replace it.”

Ten-time champion Kelly Sutherland believes he made his outriding debut in Calgary the first year that Joe started calling the chuckwagons.

“It’s going to be a sad day when he leaves because I don’t think there’ll ever be an ‘and they’re off’ voice like that again,” he said. “He’s been a great friend to me . . . to all of us.”

The Stampede will begin a selection process sometime after Sunday to replace Carbury.

Les McIntyre, the track announcer for the World Professional Chuckwagon Association, is considered the leading candidate to replace Carbury.

But right now, it’s all about saying goodbye to the voice and the voice saying goodbye to the chuckwagon family. And that includes, you and you and you and . . .

“I think the saying is all good things must come to an end and I’ve pretty well accepted that,” said Joe this week.

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Re: Joe Carbury dead at 91

Postby jon » Thu Oct 19, 2017 8:22 am

Broadcast Dialogue provides some background information in this morning's issue in the Sign-offs section:
Joe Carbury, 88, on Oct. 17. Carbury was originally from Winnipeg, but started his sports career at CHAT Medicine Hat in 1948. Carbury was working as a salesman for Monsanto and was running some radio spots at a local station where he started talking sports with the station manager, who offered him a job. He began his on-air career as play-by-play announcer for the Medicine Hat Tigers and would call CFL games in Calgary and Edmonton, as well as boxing matches. After moving to CFAC Calgary, he started calling thoroughbred racing and famously called the chuckwagon races at Stampede Park, until his retirement in July 2008. Along the way he did play-by-play for the Calgary Centennials of the WCHL, along with curling. Carbury was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 2003.
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Re: Joe Carbury dead at 91

Postby albertaboy4life » Thu Oct 19, 2017 3:19 pm

Props to Sportsnet 960 the FAN (CFAC Radio) for remembering Joe with comments from former CFAC Radio and TV sportscaster, Jack MacDonald and Ron McLean, who spent time at CFAC TV before heading east for Hockey Night in Canada - ... e-carbury/ ... e-carbury/
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