Meet Gene Honda, White Sox and Blackhawks public address announcer

May 16, 2012 (CHICAGO)

A lot of fans are surprised when they find out the voice belongs to: Gene Honda, a Japanese American.

In a career that started with radio while a student at the University of Illinois, Honda has encountered all kinds of reactions.

People never say, "Oh, you don't speak English with an accent!" "It's what they don't say," Honda said. "It's in their eyes...They nod. They stare a lot."

Honda credits his father, a second generation Japanese American, for setting him on his path.

"His advice, no matter what field you go into, if you can speak in public , it'll make you better at your profession," said Honda.

Little did his family guess that becoming the stadium voice of two Chicago pro sports teams would become Honda's profession.

Blackhawks games are almost a labor of love for Honda, who is a goalie himself during Monday night hockey games with friends.

On game days, work starts several hours before the crowd arrives and the puck drops. There are promos to go over, changes to lineups, then of course the start of the game.

Now that the Blackhawks playoff run is over, Honda has left his suite and the ice behind for the more casual atmosphere at U.S. Cellular Field.

It was 1985 when Honda first filled in as stadium announcer at the old Comiskey Park. He then returned to radio but points out one of the luckiest things about his announcing career.

"The Sox brought me back in 1990," Honda said. "The last year in the old park. So I got half a season in the old park and then came across the street to the new, and have been there ever since."

Honda doesn't take his resonant, deep voice for granted. It has made him the only person to have announced the World Series, All-Star Game, Stanley Cup and a world-class marathon, taking him to places most sports fans would envy.

For 10 years, Honda also been the stadium voice for college basketball's Final Four. And he even got a role opposite movie stars Vince Vaughn and Kevin James.

"I've got the best jobs in the world," said Honda. "Not just one, a whole bunch of them. It's nice. Things change every day.

"What do I hope for? That I work until I get ready to quit. I don't want to retire at a certain age, I want to keep doing this. Most people say I don't work for a living anyway. So it shouldn't be that tough."

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

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