LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Sean Moth said he couldn’t find Louisville on a map when then-University of Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich called him to be the new public address announcer for Cardinal sports, replacing the retiring legend, John Tong.
On Friday, Moth announced that he would not return to work for U of L after an extended furlough from the school and that his tenure behind the mic for basketball and football games would not continue, though he hopes to continue calling U of L baseball games on the radio.
Moth had a pretty good gig when he came to Louisville, calling Denver Nuggets and Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche games. But an NBA strike and faith in Jurich led him to take a chance on college sports. Now, two decades later, the word “iconic” in front of his name on the university’s release to announce his departure left him shaking his head.
“I’ve still haven’t met anybody who can tell me who did PA in Freedom Hall before John Tong, to this day,” Moth said. “To say I was replacing a legend is an understatement. And I’m humbled, if not chuckling, that Kenny (Klein, Louisville sports information director) decided to use the word iconic. I don’t see myself in that light.”
Moth brought an energy to his calls, weaving nicknames artfully into the ebbs and flows of basketball games, letting them evolve over the seasons.
His call-and-response for Louisville first downs has become a staple of football games. Moth voices, “That’s good for another ...” and the crowd roars, “Cards first down!” And he called a ton of them.
On radio, one of his best known calls came on Corey Ray’s steal home to cap a 6-5 comeback baseball victory over Wake Forest on April 18, 2015, that was featured on ESPN: “Straight steal home! The slide … the Cards win! The Cards win! Ray steals home! The Cards win! Wow!”
Moth’s career spanned the end of the Freedom Hall era into the KFC Yum! Center. His football phrasing stretched from the early spark of the program under John L. Smith, through the Orange Bowl breakthrough of Bobby Petrino, the Sugar Bowl success of Charlie Strong and Lamar Jackson’s legendary romps through visiting defensive backfields.
His voice was synonymous with big events at the university. He was the emcee of its preseason luncheons. He opened the KFC Yum! Center and moderated the funeral of Muhammad Ali. His voice can be heard on videos played for U of L freshmen during orientation.
“Sean has been an amazing ambassador for Cardinal Athletics over the last 21 years while serving as the voice and face at many of our sporting and athletic department events,” U of L Athletics Director Vince Tyra said. “As a lifelong fan, there are only a few voices that comes to mind on behalf of the Cardinals and Sean’s is at the top of the list for me. For many of us, his voice is one all our kids have known. We thank him for his hard work and dedication to Cardinal athletics and look forward to continuing our partnership calling baseball games in the spring.”
He has too many highlights to narrow down to a list of favorites, though he did mention the 2013 men’s basketball NCAA championship season as a favorite. But it wasn’t always the highest-visibility moments that stuck in his mind. Like many of us, he has vivid memories of a soccer game on a snowy night in December 2010, when Louisville scored late to beat UCLA 5-4 and advance to the College Cup.
“I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the last game at Freedom Hall,” Moth said. “I don’t know that there’s ever been another experience like that. The electricity in that building is something that will never be repeated.”
Moth added to the electricity. On a bittersweet day, he had nothing but good memories to share about the university.
“It’s something I’ve never lived to regret,” Moth said of coming to U of L. “It’s been an amazing time. I didn’t know what to expect when I came to Louisville. I joked that it was going to be like a junior college or a college. I’d be here for two or four years and maybe move on. Now 21 years later, here I am.”
Where he goes now, he’s not sure. He’s hoping to work in Louisville so he can keep calling Louisville baseball games on the radio. He noted these are uncertain times in athletics — and not just in athletics. He doesn’t really have a next step planned. (Note: If you’re hiring, call him.)
“This decision I’ve made, it could’ve come to pass that there’s not another game I’d have worked until next year,” Moth said. “Everybody knows, it’s been a very unusual six months. I don’t have anything specifically lined up. For a long time in Colorado I had a lot of voice-over work lined up, and I would love to continue something like that, but unfortunately that’s like rain, you can’t predict it, so it’s not really something to rely on. … People who know me well, being a UPS driver in a mountain town out west, might fit me well. Physical activity, being outside, wearing shorts, making people happy. As a kid, it was always my dream to work for the National Parks Service. … For my first 20 years I was in Colorado. … But my intent right now is to try and see if I can be behind the mic for a few more trips to Omaha. I’d love to see that national championship come our way. And that makes this bittersweet day a little more easy, because I get that opportunity to still be connected to the Cardinals.”
Moth may not be behind the mic moving forward, but his voice is etched into the program, and city’s, history.
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