Oct. 8, 2015
THE FLATS – For 43 years, legendary radio voice Al Ciraldo made expressions like “toe meets leather,” “brothers and sisters” and “the clock ticks” as much a part of Georgia Tech football and basketball as Buzz, Bobby Dodd and Bobby Cremins.
Georgia Tech lost Ciraldo on Nov. 7, 1997 at the age of 76, but his name and memory live on today as the great Tech voice has been elected to the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame. He joins Atlanta Braves legend Chipper Jones, Atlanta Falcons’ offensive lineman Mike Kenn, All-American defensive back Clarence Scott (Decatur High School and Kansas State) and Atlanta Hawks’ star Kevin Willis in this year’s class.
Ciraldo retired from Tech’s broadcast team in 1997, concluding an on-air career that began in 1935 as play-by-play voice for the minor-league baseball Akron Yankees and spanned 62 years, the last 43 of them with Georgia Tech.
Ciraldo stepped down from play-by-play announcing prior to the 1992-93 season but served as host for Tech’s pregame, halftime and postgame shows. He was recently elected to the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame and the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.
“On behalf of my father and the Ciraldo family, I’d like to thank the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame for this incredible honor.,” said Al Ciraldo, Jr., who will accept the induction on behalf of his father at the induction ceremony on Feb. 12, 2016 at the Buckhead Theater. “To receive this type of recognition from the city’s sports community is special and humbling. Al Ciraldo came to Atlanta in 1949 fresh out of college and World War II. Through the outstanding people he would come to know at Georgia Tech and the gracious sports fans of Atlanta, he covered sporting events over the radio for 48 years. It was a thrill for him to watch and participate in the city’s growth. I know he would be pleased with what this honor represents.”
A 1948 graduate of the University of Florida with a degree in radio broadcasting, Ciraldo actually came to Atlanta in 1949 as the play-by-play announcer for a syndicated weekly package of basketball broadcasts at WGBE-Radio.
He joined the staff at WGST-Radio and broadcast his first Tech football game in 1954 against Tulane. His first Tech basketball game was against Sewanee that same year. Over the next 38 seasons, he called 416 football and 1,030 basketball games for the Ramblin’ Wreck.
In 1984, Ciraldo moved with Tech from WGST to WCNN (680 the Fan).
“Everyone knows how much Al Ciraldo’s meant to Georgia Tech,” said head basketball coach Bobby Cremins. “As far as I’m concerned, he’s a legend and a part of Georgia Tech that can never be replaced. The Al Ciraldos of his time only come around once in a lifetime.”
Dr. Homer Rice, who retired in 1997 after 17 years as Tech’s Director of Athletics, said of Ciraldo, “His deep-seated love for Georgia Tech was matched only by the affection of Georgia Tech and its fans, friends and alumni towards him.”
The late Kim King, Ciraldo’s longest radio partner as the two teamed on Tech football for 17 years, said, “It will be hard to imagine Georgia Tech without Al Ciraldo in the radio booth. But I admired him more than as just a radio announcer. He was a unique individual who stood for old-fashioned values and virtues you don’t see a lot of these days.”
Thad Horton was his first partner in 1954, and during the 1960s, Pat Williams, future general manager of the Orlando Magic, worked with Ciraldo for two seasons.
The Awards and Induction Ceremonies for the class of 2016 will include a reception, silent auction, a parade of past inductees, and then concludes with the awards and induction ceremony.
Tickets are $25, $75, or $150 and can be ordered online starting November 1, 2015 at www.atlantasportshalloffame.org. For group ticket information or sponsorship information, contact Larry Winter at 770-714-2246.