Posted: Mar 16, 2013 2:50 PM by Brooke Burchill and Mike Losch
Updated: Mar 17, 2013 10:47 PM
HIGGINSVILLE- Greg Schmidt has been the voice of high school athletics in Lafayette County for nearly four decades. Last month, the KMMO broadcaster reached a major milestone. The girl's district playoff game between St. Paul Higginsville was his 4,000th broadcast.
"If people want to celebrate and enjoy it that's fine, but I'll simply look ahead and get ready for the next day, the next game," Schmidt said.
Friends and family gathered at Lafayette County High School to celebrate this special occasion.
During halftime, Schmidt was acknowledged in a special ceremony. A congratulatory banner that read "Congrats on #4000" was presented to Schmidt, along with the mounted and framed varsity letters of every high school he has covered. He also received a banner full of hand-written memories and thank you notes from the community.
Ruth Schmidt, Greg's wife of 27 years, held back tears as she saw the response and just how much her husband has meant to the community.
"I've had an opportunity to go to a lot of games with him," Ruth said. "We've made a lot of friendships. It's kind of amazing because as we've watched them play ball, we've watched the kids grow up and the next thing you know we're getting graduation invitations, wedding invitations, and birth announcements."
Greg and Ruth never had kids of their own, but Ruth thinks that through these friendships, they have a lot of adopted children.
"It's mainly because of these sporting events," Ruth said. "I go to games and people want to listen to him, but they want to hug me."
Schmidt began his career working for the radio station at Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg, Mo. As an avid sports fan, he wanted a career that would allow him to continue a relationship with the sports he loves. He enjoys broadcasting all kinds of high school games and throughout the years has covered sporting events in major venues in Missouri such as Arrowhead Stadium, Kemper Arena, Municipal Auditorium, Mizzou Arena, Hearnes Center and Busch Stadium.
"I think anytime you get to broadcast a high school event from a major venue it's always a lot of fun," Schmidt said. "To be able to do that, a state championship game is kind of the pinnacle of the season. It's something you always look forward to."
Schmidt is a shy and humble man who holds himself to a very high standard when it comes to his performance. Through every aspect of the job from preparation to the sign off, Schmidt says it is broadcasting the game itself that he enjoys the most.
"I just like to be able to tell the story," Schmidt said. "From the beginning of the game to the end of the game, that's the fun part, that's the entertaining part because every game is different and every story you try to tell is different."
Schmidt's play-by-play voice has spread across generations and far beyond the state of Missouri. According to Ruth, listeners have followed Greg's broadcasts online from places such as China, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Germany to hear that vivid description and attention to detail that Schmidt has become known for.
Lafayette County boys varsity basketball coach Jim Stoner has grown up listening to that voice, which covers the games he now coaches.
"I knew of the name Greg Schmidt and listened to that picture that he painted in my mind so many times," Stoner said. "It really influences the excitement you have for the game of basketball."
When Stoner became a coach he was nervous to conduct his first interview with Greg. While he knew of Greg, he had never met the broadcaster.
"Years later as I finally get my first head coaching job and finally sit down and do a first interview with him. I definitely was nervous and very much in awe of Greg," Stoner said. "I was really kind of shell-shocked my first time I got to talk to him about a game."
Current players like senior basketball player Tyrell Thirkield, who plays for Stoner, appreciate the job Schmidt does as he describes their performance.
"It's good for the fans," Thirkield said. "He knows (the game) like his right arm. It's like you're watching it but you're hearing it. He does a good job."
"After that it's 4,001. That's the way I approach it, day by day, game by game," Schmidt said. "In my mind every game is just as important as the last one. I also believe broadcasting these events, you're only as good as your last game."
Schmidt says he would like to stay on the air for at least one more year to complete an even four decades in the business. After all that time, some wonder if there will ever be another Greg Schmidt.
"It's a tough act to follow," Stoner said.