Silent Voice: Jaiven makes his last call at Boyle Stadium
Silent Voice: Jaiven makes his last call at Boyle StadiumJaiven, the Voice of Boyle Stadium since 1950, steps downAnnouncer Leon Jaiven, 92, calls a play during the city championship football game at Boyle Stadium at Stamford High School in November. Jaivin, the voice of Boyle Stadium, since 1950, retired at the end of the season. (Chris Preovolos/Staff photo)STAMFORD - Leon Jaiven has seen it all at Boyle Stadium.
By Tom Renner - Stamford Advocate - 12/17/2008 - original
Well, maybe not all. But in his 59 years as the public address announcer for Stamford High School, he has seen just about everything there is to see on a football field.
Jaiven, 92, who began calling games at Boyle in 1950, reluctantly decided to step down after last month's season finale between Stamford and Westhill.
"The contact with the youngsters was what I enjoyed,'' said Jaiven, a former English teacher and administrator in the Stamford school system. "It's a delight watching the kids. I was not happy about it going to Friday nights from Saturday afternoons. Quite honestly, the reason I quit is I can't see as well at night as I used to. When the quarterback throws the pass and I can't see where it's going, it's time to quit."
Jaiven took the job at the request of former Stamford football coach Paul Kuczo, who knew Jaiven had done a little bit of radio work and spoke at assemblies and other events.
"He broached the subject of doing the games and I said I'd give it a try,'' said Jaiven, who people affectionately called The Voice of Boyle Stadium. "I didn't know what it would entail. He said he'd get a kid to spot for me, but the kid gave me so much wrong information I said I'd do it on my own."
That was the beginning of a long relationship that saw good times and bad, but Jaiven also approached his task with a sense of professionalism.
"With his background in education, he was very conscientious about being ready for every game,'' said Dr. Michael Intrieri, the director of student services at Stamford High School, who has asked Jaiven to call the games at Boyle since the 1970s. "He'd always say to me, 'Doc, have the rosters.' He wanted to do a good job. That's what it's all about."
"Leon Jaiven is all about integrity,'' said Bobby Augustyn, who worked with Jaiven in the press box the past few years. "His golden voice resonates an overwhelming sense of trust and dignity. He's a humble man possessing all the attributes and values that exemplify strong character. He's truly an icon whose presence at Boyle Stadium reminds you of an era that you were blessed to be a part of ... and you wish that era would never end."
Jaiven saw quite a bit in his 59 years, including the undefeated Stamford teams of 1958 and 1959 under head coach Buddy O'Meara. He also was behind the microphone for some of the biggest games at Boyle, including Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference championship contests.
He also did games for Rippowam, and recalls seeing the first football game by Bobby Valentine.
"The first time I saw Bobby Valentine play football he took a pitchout at the 45-yard line and ran 55 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown. It was the first time I had ever seen him touch the ball, and he was just a freshman."
That was in the 1960s, when football was popular in Stamford. It wasn't unusual to see packed stands and end zones for games at Boyle, which is something that Jaiven missed seeing recently as fewer people attend games.
"In the early years, the big game was the Thanksgiving game against Fairfield Prep," Jaiven said. "The crowds on those days were just phenomenal on both sides of the stands. We had great crowds in those days. Even better than today."
There were other remembrances as well. Jaiven recalled one game when Boys High of Brooklyn ventured to Stamford, and seemed confident of victory. "They thought they were going to teach these hicks about football, and they got their comeuppance,'' Jaiven said. "Stamford beat them handily. I don't know what they were talking about on the way home."
Jaiven even remembers some of the top players who came through Stamford, including Rolly Wahl, the star running back from the undefeated teams of the late 1950s.
He also said watching Chris Evans, this year's star receiver who set a school record for touchdown catches, reminded him of another fine receiver from the 1970s.
"Bob Augustyn has been helping me in the booth spotting the past few years, and I thought Bob was one of the best players I ever saw,'' Jaiven said. "He was an end and ran some fabulous routes. He made some catches you wouldn't believe. When I watched Chris Evans, the thing that came to mind was Bob Augustyn. He was a great player in my estimation. Admittedly, I'm not an authority."
One other aspect Jaiven enjoyed was watching players who starred at Boyle Stadium go on to bigger and better things in college and the pros. There have been quite a few players that have gone on to NFL careers -- Garry Cobb, Craig Bingham, Steve Young, Dave Puzzuoli, to name a few -- and Jaiven took particular delight in remembering them during their high school careers.
"It's a good feeling," Jaiven said. "I can think I saw them when. One of the things I tried to avoid was to avoid saying anything that was detrimental to any kid. That went against the grain."
Jaiven's career behind the microphone lasted far longer than he could have ever imagined. "It took on a life of its own," he said.
"He was a member of the greatest generation," Augustyn said, "of men and women who made Boyle Stadium as well as the City of Stamford such a special place to be. There will be no other like him."
Now that it's time to leave the announcing to someone else, Jaiven figures he and his wife, Dorothy, will need to find some other activity in the fall.
"I don't know what we'll do on Friday nights,'' Jaiven said. "I may go down to watch the games. I might try to sneak in. It's not my say any more."
Staff writer Tom Renner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 964-2255.