‘Voice of Cal football’ reaches cusp of career milestone

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“The most amazing, sensational, dramatic, heart-rending, exciting, thrilling finish in the history of college football!”

Joe Starkey uttered those words nearly 36 years ago, moments after Kevin Moen famously trucked a Stanford trombonist at the end of the 1982 Big Game. Starkey’s call of “The Play” would become one of the most recognizable calls not just across college football media, but in the history of sports broadcasting.

After he became Cal football’s official play-by-play announcer in 1975, Starkey became a fixture in the broadcast booth, one that was renamed in his honor in 2016. To date, he has called 499 Cal football games during a career that spans 44 years — and counting.

This Saturday’s game against Oregon will be his 500th in the booth, just one month shy of his induction into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame. Earlier this year, it was announced that Starkey was the recipient of the Hall of Fame Service Award, joining nine former Cal student-athletes and coaches as the group’s most recent inductees.

In 2010, Starkey received the Chris Schenkel Award from the National Football Foundation, two years after he finished his 21-year career as voice of the San Francisco 49ers. He is also a former sports director of KGO 810 AM radio — Cal football has the longest-running partnership with KGO.

Alongside analyst Mike Pawlawski and sideline reporter Todd McKim, Starkey has been a fixture within the Cal football program through thick and thin, and will celebrate on the weekend of Oct. 26 as he joins the rest of the Cal Athletic 2018 Hall of Fame class. The 10 inductees will be honored on the field during Cal’s home game against Washington on Oct. 27.

Josh Yuen is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @joshcal2020.