When you think of the history of the Toronto Raptors franchise, you think of Damon Stoudamire, Vince Carter, Alvin Williams and Morris Peterson – all players who were a big part of the team and helped develop them into what they are today. These players made it exciting for fans and helped increase attendance and television viewers. While players certainly drive a franchise, there was a certain voice that helped shape the Toronto Raptors – the voice of Chuck Swirsky.
Chuck Swirsky started his professional career as the public address announcer for the Chicago Bulls from 1980-1983. In 1981, he also joined WGN Radio. He would stay with WGN until the mid 1990's. During his time with WGN, Swirsky did play-by-play for Depaul University basketball games, as well as pre-game and post-game coverage of the Chicago Bears. In the mid 1990's, Swirsky left WGN and went on to do play-by-play for both the University of Michigan basketball and football team.
In 1998, Chuck Swirsky came to the Toronto Raptors, doing the play-by-play over the radio. It was only a couple years later in 2001 when Swirsky took over on television. Swirsky was an instant hit with fans. The passion he showed while covering the games and the catch phrases he threw out were a huge part of what made him so popular. Whether it was "get out the salami and cheese mama" or "onions, baby, onions", Swirsky knew how to engage the viewers and bring something fun and original.
Over the years, Swirsky had many great calls as a commentator, but there are some that come to mind more than others.
Here is one of the greatest calls by Swirsky on Morris Peterson's game-tying three pointer against the Washington Wizards in 2007. Have a listen for yourself.
You can tell by the sincerity in his voice how much he loved the Raptors. He would capture the moment and make it a memory of a life-time. His call on Peterson's game-tying shot is just as memorable as the shot itself.
Not only did Swirsky love the Raptors, but he loved the city of Toronto. Born in Norfolk, Virginia, Swirsky became a Canadian citizen in 2008. Shortly after, Swirsky left the team due to family reasons. He left for Chicago to become the radio play-by-play commentator for the Chicago Bulls – a position he still holds to this day. After Swirsky`s departure, Matt Devlin took over as the Raptors television play-by-play commentator.
Overall, Chuck Swirsky was a great personality. His passion and enthusiasm was contagious and the Raptors were lucky they had him for a decade. He was honoured with his own bobblehead in 2007 and t-shirts were made of him saying his famous catch phrases. He brought so much to the city of Toronto and the Raptors franchise. He was a polarized figure and people either loved him or hated him, but there's one thing you can't deny, and that's his passion.
Thank you Chuck!
Get out the salami and cheese mama, this article is over!
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