More Than A Voice (Hubert profile, May 2019)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The booming voice and signature “Oh My!” are unmistakable. As the longtime “Voice of the Gators”, Mick Hubert called national championships, memorable games and more than 2,500 games in Florida.
After 33 years, Hubert calls it a career.
Hubert, 68, told the Gators athletic director Scott Stricklin earlier this week as he retires after the UF-South Carolina baseball series this weekend at Condron Ballpark.
“That’s going to be it,” Hubert said. “It wasn’t the end of a five-year plan. I don’t know if I can explain how I knew, but I knew. I had been thinking about it for a little while. I just had to say a few prayers about it. and enjoy every game.”
Hubert and his wife Judi recently sold their Gainesville home and will begin a new season of living in Sarasota, where they purchased a home in 2019 and plan to move next week.
While his departure is sure to surprise die-hard fans who listened to his spirited style and meticulous preparation on the air, Hubert said he is at peace and excited to live a different life in retirement.
“Five years ago, I probably told you I was going to do this until I was at least 80,” Hubert said. “That was five years ago. A few years ago I started to change. I changed my mind. Only God can change a person’s heart. I’m just obedient right now. “
Hubert said he couldn’t pinpoint a specific moment when he decided to step away from the mic that defined his professional career. He said it was more of a feeling that now was the right time, a place he had reached through his strong faith and discussions with his wife and their pastor. Judi retired after 32 years as a kindergarten teacher at Oak Hall in May 2021.
The Gators announced the hiring of Hubert on May 4, 1989 to replace David Steele as the “voice of the Gators”. Hubert has spent the past 10 years as an athletic director at CBS affiliate WHIO in Dayton, Ohio. He was also a play-by-play radio host for the University of Dayton men’s football and basketball teams.
Hubert arrived as an underdog, but has become synonymous with the Gators over time. Hubert, Steele and Otis Boggs are the only three full-time play-by-play voices in UF sports history. He is the only broadcaster in history to win national championships for the same school in college football (three), men’s basketball (two), and baseball (one). He stopped doing radio play-by-play for baseball after the 2017 season, but continued to call games for the SEC Network and its streaming services.
Mike on the mic
A look at the Gators’ play-by-play voice Mick HubertThe 1989-2022 career in numbers:
* Called every UF football game since the 1989 season opener; **Does not include approximately 100 women’s basketball, soccer, softball, tennis and gymnastics events
Hubert credits his call for Danny Wuerffel’s touchdown pass to receiver Chris Doering in the closing seconds of a win at Kentucky in 1993 as the one that “put him on the map” in Gator Nation.
“I’ve probably listened to this over 100 times in my life,” said the former UF sporting director. Jeremy Foley mentioned. “You could feel his passion. He wasn’t just calling it a play-by-play guy. He was calling it a Gator. That’s the magic he brought to a Gator show.”
Hubert walks away with no regrets after a career filled with awards and recognition, including induction into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame in 2019.
Hubert made his play-by-play debut in a high school football game on WMDB in Peoria, Illinois as a student at Illinois State University nearly 50 years ago. He was inducted into his alma mater’s communications program Hall of Fame last month.
A native of St. Anne, Illinois, Hubert is grateful for longevity in a field that has undergone significant change over the course of his career.
“Nobody is invincible. You can be substituted at any time, and I understand that,” Hubert said. “But like me [told Stricklin], I think by doing it now, I’m off to what I consider to be the pinnacle of my art. It’s just time. It’s just time for me to go. I can still do it, but my wife sacrificed her whole career. We missed so many meetings, parties and meetings.”
Getting ready to move reminded Hubert of everything he had missed at home as he and Judi cleaned up photos and flipped through old albums. There were so many pictures of Judi in their native Illinois with her family and friends. He was always out of the picture, at the last game of football, basketball or baseball.
“I wanted to cry,” he said. “Nothing was more important than the Gators. That’s what this company demands.”
Meanwhile, Hubert’s exit will stir emotions for generations of fans who have shared the ups and downs of their beloved Gators through Hubert’s broadcasts.
The University Athletic Association will have recognition in Hubert’s career stadium on the video board during this weekend’s baseball series. There are also plans to honor him at a UF football game in the fall.
“Mick Hubert shared his immense talents and represented the Gators incredibly well over the past 33 years. The entire Gator Nation will be forever grateful for providing the soundtrack to so many special Gator sporting moments,’ Stricklin said. “It’s hard to imagine a UF football or basketball broadcast without his voice being a part of it. Mick is a true pro and one of the greatest of all time. We wish him and Judi, the best in the next chapter of their lives.”
Foley was part of the committee that screened 150 candidates for the job in 1989. Three decades later, there’s no question the committee hired the right person.
“Over the years, his incredible passion for the Gators, you could feel it coming through the shows,” Foley said. “When the Gators were winning or something exciting was happening, he could bring it to life. I loved watching Gator highlights on TV that called them. He’s incredibly talented.
“Mick Hubert, in several sports, was part of the fabric of following the Gators. He meant a lot to this program. He obviously rewarded our faith in him by becoming one of the greatest of all time.”
Hubert worked with several different analysts throughout his career in Florida, including Lee McGriff in football, Mark Wise and Lee Humphrey in basketball, and Nick Belmonte and Jeff Cardozo in baseball.
Belmonte, a former UF baseball player, veteran announcer and scout, has been with Hubert from the start. They will be at the SEC Network booth for the Gators-South Carolina series Thursday through Saturday.
“It’s been an incredible 33 years with 530 shows, 1,600 hours on the air — or 65 days of our lives. And I’ve loved every minute of it,” Belmonte said. “In many ways, he’s the best ‘teammate’ I’ve ever had!”
When asked which shows stood out the most, Hubert said the Nationals are moments he will cherish forever. In 33 years, Hubert has never missed a game due to illness and has only missed a handful of men’s basketball games due to conflicts with football.
He said what he cherishes most are the relationships he has built with coaches, players, colleagues and fans.
“I wasn’t doing brain surgery,” he said. “I was in the toy department of life calling games. But I’m going to do it to the best of my God-given ability. I also liked the Monday-Friday prep. By the time Saturday came, I was kind of like a fan ready for the game.”
In an hour-long interview the day after he met Stricklin, Hubert answered two questions that many are sure to ask.
Will he call games in the future if the opportunity arises?
“I could, but I don’t see it.”
Finally, what does he hope Gators fans have gotten from the past 33 years of listening to him on radio and TV?
“I hope they heard the enthusiasm, and credibility is important to me,” he said. “You have to be factual and believable, but you have to be enthusiastic. That’s what I’ve always felt. I’ve always wanted to take my audience on a roller coaster of emotions. I also wanted to give them enough information so they can paint that picture in their minds.”
As he turns off the microphone, the images remain.