Fred McLeod, the play-by-play announcer for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Fox Sports Ohio, is dead, the Cavaliers announced in a sad post on the team’s website. He was only 67-years-old.
“It is with the most extreme sadness that the Cleveland Cavaliers share that Cavs and Fox Sports Ohio play-by-play announcer Fred McLeod died suddenly Monday evening,” the team wrote.
“The entire Cavaliers organization mourns the loss of their great friend and teammate. Fred’s deep love for Cleveland and the Cavaliers was clearly evident in everything he did in and around the community and on-air during his more than 1,000 Cavalier game broadcasts. He was a true, heart-felt ambassador for the team, fans and entire greater Cleveland community.”
The cause of death was a heart attack, according to Cleveland.com.
LeBron James expressed shock on Twitter, writing, “Man WHAT!!!!??? ??OMG this is extremely sad. @CavsFredMcLeod. May you rest in Paradise my friend! @BethHMcLeod my prayers sent up above to you and your family!! ?? ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ #RIPFred.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Fred McLeod Leaves Behind a Meteorologist Wife & Three Children
The Cavaliers offered condolences to McLeod’s family in the announcement.
“The Cavaliers extend our deepest condolences to Fred’s entire family, including his wife Beth, mother Marilyn, sister Lynn, and his three children, Sean, Jenna, Molly and each of their families,” they wrote. Beth McLeod works as a meteorologist for Fox8 in Cleveland.
Beth’s cover photo on Twitter is of her husband. They had been married 28 years.
Fred McLeod mentions Beth in his Twitter profile, writing, “Cavaliers Play-By-Play voice, get exclusive weather forecasts from Beth McLeod of WOIO, proud Strongsville Mustang.” His last post on Twitter came two days before his death and was a retweet of a weather forecast by his wife.
Beth’s tweets showed nothing amiss. She posted about loving to bake on the evening of September 9. On September 8, she wrote, “May tomorrow be a perfect day…Goodnight everybody.”
2. McLeod, Who Was Raised in Ohio, Was the Cavaliers’ Announcer for Years
According to the Cavaliers, Fred McLeod “grew up in nearby Strongsville, Ohio. He was the Cavaliers television play-by-play announcer on FOX Sports Ohio since the 2006 season. He was about to embark on his 14th consecutive season, and 15th overall, as he served in the same capacity with the Cavs during the 1979-80 season.”
In addition to his play-by-play duties, the team wrote, “Fred also served as the Cavaliers’ Executive Producer for Multimedia, providing fans behind-the-scenes access on Cavs.com, Cavs HQ, Twitter and Facebook with daily updates and interviews during the season.”
The team called McLeod “one of the most accomplished and respected announcers in the NBA,” adding that he had recently “celebrated his 36th season of broadcasting games, having also spent 22 seasons announcing Detroit Pistons games, prior to returning home to join the Cavaliers in 2006. Fred spent the 1979 MLB baseball season in Cleveland as well, as a TV announcer for the Cleveland Indians. His diverse and extensive sports broadcasting career also included time with the NFL’s Detroit Lions and MLB’s Detroit Tigers.”
3. McLeod Played College Baseball & Once Said His Heart Was With Cleveland Sports
McLeod was an athlete in his own right. He graduated from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and played baseball there. According to the Cavaliers, he even pitched in the NAIA College World Series.
According to NBA.com’s Joe Gabriele, in a profile on McLeod, McLeod “was a two-sport star – third baseman and pitcher on the baseball team and shooting guard on the hoops squad, earning the nickname ‘Mr. Jumpshot,'” at Strongville, where he grew up.
He told Gabriele: “I did play-by-play for the Pistons from 1984-85 through 2005-06. But my heart has always been with Cleveland sports. My wife will tell you, I threw a shoe at the TV when we lost the 1997 World Series. She said, ‘Calm down! It’s just a game!’ And I’d say, you don’t understand what we’ve been through in Cleveland.”
4. McLeod Called More Than 1,000 Games in Cleveland & Wanted to Make Fans Smile or Laugh
Fred McLeod was a well-known figure in Cleveland. “McLeod called more than 1,000 Cleveland games for FOX Sports Ohio, including the 2016 NBA championship,” according to Sports Illustrated.
According to SI, he also called games for the Indians, the Detroit Tigers and the NFL’s Lions.
He told Gabriele: “I want people to smile or laugh when they’re watching the game, and, I want them to say: ‘Hey I didn’t know that.’”
5. Fred McLeod Won Many Awards During His Time in Broadcasting & Was Known for His Intense Preparation
The team announcement on his death listed some of the awards that McLeod won.
“Fred was a multiple regional Emmy Award winner as part of the Fox Sports Ohio Cavs broadcast crew, along with his beloved game broadcast partner Austin Carr. He was also a proud recipient of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences’ prestigious Silver Circle Award in recognition of lifetime achievement in television,” the team wrote.
He told Gabriele that he tried to intensely prepare for broadcasts.
“I’m a story-teller,” he said to Gabriele. “And the only way you can get stories is to do intense preparation. Because everybody can reveal stats or read a bio. But I’m a story-teller, and it takes work and the time. Technology allows me to get things done more efficiently, but I still use the extra time to find something else to use in the broadcast.”
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