It took some time for Mark Boyle to appreciate the extent of the gift he received from his father, former Twin Cities sportscaster and play-by-play announcer Joe Boyle, who died in Arizona this week at age 84.
You might remember Joe Boyle from his work with the Twins in the mid-1970s, when he worked with Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew on Channel 11. Or from calling North Stars play-by-play. Or the Gophers on radio stations in Minneapolis and Anoka. Or the state high school hockey and basketball tournaments.
His son remembers him this way: "A relationship between a father and son is almost always complicated and filled with ups and downs, and ours was no different. But there will never be a day that I’m not beyond grateful for everything he’s done for me, and even though I’ve come to appreciate that more as each year passes, when I would tell him that I loved him it always somehow seemed woefully inadequate to express how much he’s meant to me."
Mark Boyle, who grew up in St. Louis Park, followed his father into broadcasting. A career that took him from the Twin Cities to St. Louis and New York turned stable when Boyle became the radio play-by-play announcer for the Indiana Pacers, where he'll begin his 30th season in October.
That Mark followed into a high-profile, high-pressure profession added an extra dynamic to the father-and-son relationship. After Joe Boyle left the Twin Cities, he went to work for ESPN, where he was the first college basketball broadcast partner of Dick Vitale.
"He would listen to my tapes, which I'm sure were excruciatingly painful to sit through in those early years, and offer blunt critiques," Mark wrote in a Facebook post. "He would always manage to find something positive ... but he was unsparing in his observations about what I could do better."
Here's video of Joe Boyle calling a 1975 state hockey tournament game between Hill-Murray and Duluth East. (The analyst is Lou Nanne.)
Here's Mark Boyle calling the end of a Pacers game in 2010:
One of Mark's friends, a former Twin Cities broadcasting executive, told Mark on Facebook: "When I first heard you do play-by-play, I thought, 'Gosh, he sounds like his dad.' "
Even if your work isn't as high profile, many of you can probably imagine the following scene and its aftermath, which Mark Boyle recounted: "The highlight of my career was the night I invited my dad to sit in with me on a Pacers-Suns broadcast in Phoenix. After the game, I asked him what he thought, and he offered some measured commentary about the broadcast being halfway decent.
"It wasn’t until years later that my sister told me that my dad had confided to her that he thought that I was better than he had ever been. Even though it was many years ago, when I think about that night now it makes my heart beat just a bit faster and brings a literal tear to my eye."