We Miss You Pete

Among the several retired jerseys and accomplishments draped from the roof of Hilton Coliseum is a certain seemingly insignificant banner that brings little attention to itself. While the flashy jerseys of Thompson, Grayer, Hornacek and Hoiberg draw immediate attention to the eye, this banner has a small symbol and a simple saying.

Among the several retired jerseys and accomplishments draped from the roof of Hilton Coliseum is a certain seemingly insignificant banner that brings little attention to itself. While the flashy jerseys of Thompson, Grayer, Hornacek and Hoiberg draw immediate attention to the eye, this banner has a small symbol and a simple saying. The multitude of cardinal and gold signs that document the successes in basketball and wrestling is enough to make your jaw drop; even the picture of the fist-pumping Johnny Orr gives Hilton Magic a little extra flavor. But this banner is different.  It doesn't need to be flashy. It is like the Marvin Harrison of banners, substance over style.  Along side an unimpressive silver microphone is this simple statement, "Pete Taylor…..Voice of the Cyclones." 

 

And then it hits you like a ton of bricks, it has already been three years since Pete untimely passed away and his voice silenced at the young age of 57. In March of 2003 the terrible news of Pete's passing sent shockwaves through the Cyclone Nation. I still get a little choked up when I think about it. On the same day of his death, Iowa State had to muster the strength to play Missouri. Inspired, they put together their most impressive win of the year, winning 71-55. Resting in Pete's place throughout the game was a rose wrapped in cardinal and gold ribbon. It was a nice tribute to the greatest of Cyclones.

 

I asked BJ Schaben about having to broadcast the game in those circumstances and he called it, "The toughest day of my life." At the start of the game, not even Schaben or then TV voice of the Cyclones, John Walters, could hold back the emotions. The Hilton faithful were struggling themselves. It was tough to find the strength to cheer that night. For millions of Cyclone fans, it was as if they just lost one of their best buddies.

 

Pete Taylor was the Iowa State play-by-play man for over thirty years. He was the stabilizing force for all Cyclone athletics. During his long tenure, that included work on television and in the Athletic Department, it is estimated he announced around 5,000 Cyclone sporting events. Pete endured all of the best and worst of Iowa State's athletics. Despite many opportunities to take his craft outside the state of Iowa to bigger markets, Pete opted to stay at home in Cyclone country. It was here where he became nothing short of a legend. 

         

For many Iowans, Pete was one of the only reasons to pay attention to Cyclone athletics.  I still remember listening to some of the beat-downs given to the ISU football team at the hands of Nebraska, and hearing classic lines along with an exasperated laugh, "Well at least the Cyclones kept the Huskers from putting up 100."  Even during the rough times, you knew Pete was fighting through them too, and somehow that made the losses easier to take. In the heartbreaking defeats against Michigan State and Hampton, hearing the consoling post-game show, with him at the helm, was like therapy. 

 

He also made the victories taste even sweeter; listening to him was like being at the game with a close friend. Some of my favorite memories growing up were of sitting next to the radio with my dad and listening to Pete. Very few people have the ability to make you feel like you know them just through their voice on the radio.

 

He was warm, but at the same time said what came to his mind. During one intense basketball game at Oklahoma, one of the Sooners big men hit a shot to give them the lead in overtime.  Pete's response over the airwaves in an upset tone, "That big stiff hasn't made a shot all game!"  It was moments like this that endeared him to all his listeners. He also was known to have a few words for the zebras. And, by gosh, he was always right. He wanted the Cyclones to win more than anybody; it didn't matter if he was broadcasting live or not.

 

He made ISU athletics fun. And in the end, despite the passion to win and the negativity that often follows, having fun is the reason we all became fans.

 

His call of the Seneca Wallace run will resonate for decades to come. "Here's Wallace pumping, looking, running to his right, looking and he's going to be almost caught; now he's running at the 25 and runs down the sideline back to the 10! Now he's giving ground, goes around the 10 to the left side to the 5, TOUCHDOWN!!! Oh, my goodness what a run by Wallace!"

         

So sits his banner, unassuming but powerful.  Just by observing his name etched in cloth makes the great memories come alive. While at Hilton, listen closely and you can still hear his voice echo through the rafters, "Tinsley over to Fizer, Fizer in traffic, takes it in and stuffs it over Mihm! Oh, what a move by Marcus Fizer! "…. "Sullivan a mile out, GOOD! Oh, my word what a shot!"

         


AllCyclones Top Stories