42-Years in Broadcasting: Rich Funke looks back on his coverage of the local sports legends

Posted at: 11/15/2012 4:42 PM
Updated at: 11/27/2012 7:45 AM
By: Rich Funke

With Rich retiring next month, News10NBC is looking back at some of the people and events he covered over his 42-years in broadcasting. Here's Rich's look back on the sports legends he covered over the years.

There were legends already in place when I began my career as a sportscaster. I was fortunate to get to know people like Johnny Antonelli, Carmen Basilio, Sammy Urzetta, Trent Jackson and Les Harrison. But there were many others from Rochester that I was fortunate to cover on their way to the national stage.  

One of the first was Wings Manager Joe Altobelli. I'll never forget what he did for baseball here, and the day Rochester threw Alto a parade after he won a World Series in Baltimore in 1983.   

Ken Kaiser made it from the minors to the majors too. The colorful American League ump deserves thanks for bringing the big leaguers back here to raise money for St. Joseph’s Villa.

Don cherry, of course, was the Amerks most colorful coach. He helped save hockey in Rochester in the early 70's before joining the bruins. He's a star hockey analyst in Canada now.

Mike Keenan started his pro coaching career here and ended the Calder Cup drought here in 1983, before ending the Stanley Cup drought in New York City ten years later.    

Who could have imagined Greece neighbors Brian Gionta and Ryan Callahan becoming captains of two of the most storied franchise in the NHL in Montreal and New York.  Brian, of course brought a Stanley Cup back to his hometown as a member of the New Jersey Devils in 2003.  

I covered a quiet point guard from Brockport who helped Nazareth reach the NCAA's in 1984.     
Jeff Van Gundy wound up coaching the Knicks and Rockets before becoming one of the top analysts on television.

We followed sharpshooting Pittsford guard Greg Monroe to the national stage as Syracuse Universtiy reached the final four in 1987. And we were there when John Wallace carried Athena to state titles and  then put the Orange on his back for another final four appearance in 1996.

I remember Abby Wambach when she was also a dominant "basketall" player at Mercy. I remember her  disappointment when she was left off her first national soccer team.  Mary Abigail Wambach has become the  most accomplished female athlete ever from our town.

We highlighted Jenn Stuczynski when she starred on the basketball court at Roberts Wesleyan and had no idea she'd become Jenn Suhr, the world's best pole vaulter.

We saw J-Mac go from varsity manager for the Athena basketball team to national celebrity overnight.

Cathy Turner and Diann Roffe commanded our attention at the winter games in Albertville and Lillehammer.  Cathy was America’s best on the short track while Diann took home an Olympic gold in skiing.   

East high's Kim Batten set a world record in the 400 meter hurdles and we were in Atlanta when she won silver at the 1996 summer games.

McQuaid's Bob Thomas was the first NFL player from here that I covered. He was a walk-on at Notre Dame who kicked a game winning field goal in the sugar bowl. Bob went on to play for the Chicago Bears. Now he's an Illinois Supreme Court Judge.

Roland Williams was one of our first Eddie Meath all stars. Roland won a Super Bowl ring with the st. Louis Rams. I always appreciated the fact that Roland came home to run camps each summer that inspired countless kids.

We followed Terry Diehl for a decade on the the pro golf tour and we rooted hard when he took the lead at the 1980 PGA Championship at Oak Hill.

And we're still following Jeff Sluman, a bowling champ at Arcadia before he went on to win the PGA Championship in 1988.  

From boxing's Charles Murray to bowling's Doug Kent and Tommy Kress to baseball's Tim Redding and Mike Jones; to all those who reached the national stage and to all the dedicated coaches who helped them get there, thanks for allowing us to come along.