Watching the game in a novel way
NEAR THE ACTION: Jick served as public address announcer for the Boston Celtics from 1980 to 1997, when the team won three NBA titles.
Basketball has always been a hobby for Andy Jick ’74, but as the Boston College Eagles public address announcer, he usually sees the game from a much different perspective. While most attendees of a basketball game sit up in the bleachers and watch the action on the court, Jick has the unique job of relaying the information the other way.
Spending more than 40 years on the sidelines, Jick has been able to see many different types of basketball games, ranging from high-school rivalries to NCAA Tournament contests to legendary NBA Finals bouts.
A basketball enthusiast, Jick looked for a way to involve himself with the game while a student at Brandeis University and found a way onto the team by volunteering as a first-year to be the Judges’ manager.
“I managed [the basketball team] in high school,” Jick said in an interview with the Justice.
“I came to Brandeis and liked being a manager, so I volunteered [for the position].
“I was the manager for four years while I was here and I enjoyed it immensely.”
His spot on the team allowed Jick to experience a successful period in men’s basketball history—from 1970 to 1974, the team posted consecutive winning seasons for the first time in 11 years and went 21-6 in his senior year—and his job as manager afforded him the opportunity to serve as public address announcer during the Judges’ home games.
What evolved from a job Jick took “by happenstance” was the opportunity to be heard by an exponentially larger number of people after graduating Brandeis, when the Boston Celtics came calling with a job offer.
Graduating with a degree in politics, Jick did not plan on continuing his career as a public address announcer, taking a job in the business world after finishing schooling.
However, he explained, one Friday afternoon in the late 1970s he got a phone call from the Celtics organization asking if he could step in on short notice and fill in for the regular public address announcer who was unable to call the game.
Jick explained that a Brandeis graduate was a member of the Celtics’ front office and suggested him as someone who was available to step in for the Friday night game.
When the job became available in 1980, Jick accepted the Celtics’ offer to serve as public address announcer and spent the next 17 years calling Celtics’ home games, including five trips by the team to the NBA Finals and three Celtics championships.
Jick holds the special distinction as the Celtics’ final public address announcer at the Boston Garden, the team’s home court from 1946 until 1995, and the first public address announcer in the Fleet Center, renamed TD Garden in 2005, and the current home of the Celtics.
The part-time job of public address announcer for a professional sports team brought many memorable moments for Jick, but there was always one type that stood out—the retirement ceremony.
Jick explained that he always enjoyed seeing the retirement ceremonies, since they were by nature the most festive events.
Once his career with the Celtics ended in 1997, when the team’s management switched hands, he “took a few years off” from the sport entirely. In fact, Jick did not watch any Celtics games at all before starting to watch games in the late 1990s.
However, it took four years before he returned to the sidelines as a public address announcer. In 2001, Jick began a job as the Boston College Eagles’ public address announcer and has called the men’s and women’s basketball games for the Eagles for the past 13 years.
In his time as a public address announcer, Jick has seen the job change, but is reluctant to tweak his style to match the current system in place.
“The PA announcer is [there] to report to the crowd who scores, who got the assist, introduce who got the assist [and] introduce the crowd to the players—that’s what it is,” he said. “Now [in today’s day and age], they have people in the crowd who … are entertainers whose job is to get the crowd involved.”
“I’m old school,” he laughed, explaining that he views the role of a public address announcer in a totally different manner.
When working as a public address announcer, Jick said he “prefers to let the game call itself,” explaining to the crowd only what is necessary and leaving the fans to watch the court, not the sidelines.
“They [the fans] are there for what’s on the court,” he said.
Jick’s sentiment about letting the game speak for itself holds true across whatever type of game he has called, be it a Judges game in the early 1970s or a Boston College game in 2014.
“The difference [between a college game and a professional game] is not that great,” he said. “If the crowd is energized, then maybe I’ll get more energized; maybe by my style I’ll energize the crowd a little, and it’ll be a little more upbeat, but there’s not much difference between a Brandeis game with 1,000 people and a BC game with anywhere from 4,000 to 8,600 people.”
“Did it feel different with 18,000 people [at a Celtics game]?” “Maybe a little,” he noted but reiterated that at its core, the game was the same no matter where he was calling.
Jick’s viewpoint allowed him to travel with his unusual hobby, serving as a public address announcer whenever the opportunity arose, including a high school rivalry game between two Boston-area schools as a favor a friend.
Acting as a public address announcer not only gives Jick the opportunity to connect the fans to the action on the court in a special way, but it also gives him access to the game in an entirely different manner—one that allows him to see the games he watches in a different light.
“PA announcing basketball games over the past 40 plus years has given me a front-row seat to some of the greatest basketball players and upcoming stars of the 20th and 21st centuries,” Jick remarked in a follow-up email to the Justice.
Jick continues to serve as the public address announcer for Boston College. He is still involved with his favorite sport and watches the game from his unique perspective on the sidelines, a long way from the job he started when he was a manager of his college team.