Steve McClure graduated from Southport High School (Indianapolis) in 1963 without a clue. Southport is not wrong. That version of Steve McClure is not ready for the world Ball State That awaited him.
“I don’t know how to be a college student,” McClure said.
He lasted a year. Another semester later. McClure’s father said he would not pay another penny in college if he did not improve his grades. Instead, a family friend took McClure downtown to the Air Force Recruiting Office. “It’s what I need,” McClure said.
Four years in the Air Force changed McClure. He re-entered Ball State after his tour and zoomed through the school, “creating ‘A’s’ instead of’ D’s.” McClure, 77, graduated from Ball State in 1971 with a degree in radio and television. He is off and running in a career spanning 51 years in various roles in sports media and communications.
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McClure never stopped working. But he also did not seem to be moving so fast that he ceased to enjoy his work, even though it covered golf and tennis for the local network in the Center Grove Sports Network, Greenwood, Indiana, for the past five years or so. Spotter has been working at the Indianapolis Colts Games for 36 years, or as a public address announcer at Franklin College for the past 16 years.
“I think I’m very passionate about what I do,” McClure said. “If you are not passionate about what you do, why not take part in it? I never thought to stop. Why me? ‘Steve, when are you going to give up some of the things you do?’ People asked. I say, ‘Why, are you jealous?’
McClure offered that last question with a smile. Before he pauses and thinks about the next line. The road ahead of him was blurred. But he focused on something completely different.
“If you take a piece of paper and list 1 to 100 of all the things I am grateful for, there will not be enough numbers,” McClure said. “I try to encourage others to live in that spirit. I was a man of God and I experienced His presence in this whole test. I’m consistent in my beliefs so I’m comfortable with those feelings. That’s how I want to remember: I lived my life.
McClure saw his doctor on Friday three weeks ago. The pain in his lower abdomen became unbearable. He has been receiving treatment periodically for irritable bowel syndrome for the past five years and believes it will cause discomfort again.
After a CAT scan and more tests, a biopsy of his liver found a malignant tumor that had spread to his colon. Doctors devised options for McClure and his wife Sylvia.
“It was not a difficult decision for us,” McClure said. “Since it is an aggressive type of cancer, the prognosis is not good. If I went through chemotherapy, I would not be able to live the life I am used to living.
McClure does not know how long he left. Time is precious. Steve and Sylvia, who have been married for 34 years, welcomed their daughter Jenny and granddaughter Erin to their home during a visit from Florida this week.
The news, he admitted, was “jerk.” McClure has been healthy all his life. “It’s like a heavyweight boxer knocking you down,” he said.
But he did not stand for long. Kevin Conrad, who has worked with McClure for the past five years with the Center Grove Sports Network, has compiled a touching video tribute from McClure’s life to coaches, players and others.
“What I like about Steve is that he has a way of getting into the press box and covering a game that is refreshing,” Conrad said. “Oh, we’re playing another game. ‘It’s not always. He’s a big smile and a heartfelt applause. He’s always been an eternal optimist.
At golf events, while working at the Conrad Clubhouse, McClure often traveled to the course to interview and view golfers. But at a very useless time during those long events, Conrad was able to get to know McClure as a friend.
“He really likes to cover kids who can’t get highlights in sports like basketball or football,” Conrad said. “He had a way with them to keep those kids smiling. He’s a professional, but you can say he really enjoyed the work he was doing.
McClure looks more like Sparky Anderson than Tommy Lassorda. But the Dodger blue goes through his veins. He has attended the Los Angeles Dodgers fantasy camp 17 times, including last spring at Vero Beach, Florida, the team’s spring training home.
“I’m a good player in the Little League,” McClure said.
He played with the Indiana Central Little League program. When McClure was 12 years old, Indiana native and then-Brooklyn Dodger Carl Erskine played the national anthem on his harmonica in his Little League All-Star Game. McClure was already a Dodger fan, but it ended the deal.
“I hated the Yankees,” he said. “I could not stand them and beat them until the Dodgers finally defeated them in 1955. The Dodgers have been my team ever since.”
McClure met Erskine at a dinner party at the Indianapolis Zoo in 1994, and his wife, Sylvia, has long been revered as a teacher. Erskine featured speaker. Sylvia persuaded her husband to talk to Erskine, who asked for her business card. Three days later, the Manila Envelope arrived with registration for the Dodgers Fantasy Camp.
“I just couldn’t fill it fast enough,” he said. “It was so thrilling for me. We won the championship that year. I went to another 16 camps and never won again. But I met guys who became good friends with me from all over the world.
Many of them have been in contact with McClure ever since he learned that his health condition was toxic. McClure makes friends easily. He did them on his first job at the WRCR radio station in Rushville, Indiana, where he was news and sports director and called play-by-play for Rushville and Eastern Hancock basketball and football games. He moved to New Port Richie, Florida to work on All-News, All-Sports Radio Station from 1973-78 and later became a sports communicator at Youngstown State, Cincinnati and Barry University (FLA).
“The good thing is I’m alone,” he said. “Because I work all the time.”
He returned home to Indianapolis in 1985 and got a job at Sharpford through a longtime friend, but with the condition that he continue his passion for sports. And he served as Public Address Announcer for Indianapolis Basketball University from 1985 to 2005. McClure has been with the Colts for 18 years as an Interior Press Box Announcer. After helping develop the Spanish radio network for the Colts Games for a number of years, he worked for many years as a spotter for stadium public address announcer Mike Johnson.
“I want to take on new challenges,” McClure said.
In recent years, he has worked as a public address announcer at Franklin College and as a correspondent for the Daily Journal in addition to his duties with the Center Grove Sports Network. Sylvia often joins him.
“He loves life,” Conrad said. “He’s such a person. I do not think it has become a routine for him.
Last Friday, Steve and Sylvia went to see the American band at the Brown County Music Center in Nashville. What is the benefit of living life if you do not live outside?
“I try to be my teenager,” McClure said. “I’ve done the same all my life and I love the work I do. I have so many things to say with gratitude.”