by Patrick Gustavson
Joe Arnone may not be a household name to most, but if you’ve ever been to any Central Connecticut sporting event, you’ve heard his voice. Arnone has been the public-address announcer for the Blue Devils for the last 56 years, but decided to hang it up following Saturday’s men’s and women’s basketball doubleheader.
“Physically and mentally, it’s tough to do,” Arnone said when asked why he was retiring. “I’m ready to have the young guy take over. I’ve been here 56 years and it’s time to go.”
Arnone’s affiliation with the university began as an undergraduate student in 1955, back when the school was known as Teacher’s College of Connecticut. During his time at the school, Arnone was a member of the football team and was even named team MVP in 1958.
Following graduation, he was an assistant football and baseball coach, but what he is known most for is being the PA announcer, which he did for the first time in 1962.
In a true testament to Arnone’s dedication to the school, assistant athletic director Thomas Pincince pointed out that Arnone returned every penny he made from being the public-address announcer back to the school.
Saturday was a day of mixed emotions for Arnone, who sat at his usual spot at the microphone, with family, friends and spectators approaching to congratulate him and to emphasize their respect for his long career.
Detrick Gymnasium was adorned with tributes. Arnone’s number 55 jersey was hanging from the press box, the banner across the press table read “three,” with several extra e’s, commemorating Arnone’s memorable three-point call. Cheerleaders, dancers and fans all held up cardboard cutouts of his head.
At halftime of the men’s game, Arnone was recognized and joined at halfcourt by his family, friends, CCSU President Dr. Zulma Toro and many current and former coaches. He received a long, standing ovation from the crowd, which was particularly full for the occasion.
Rather than speak of himself, Arnone chose to reflect on what has changed about Central, what he loved about the school and all the people he’s come to know in his half-century affiliation with the university.
“I’ve had my fair share of rewards,” Arnone said to the crowd. “My affiliation with this institution, working with remarkable men and women, teachers, coaches, administration, staff, personnel and athletes.”
One aspect of his time that he enjoyed the most at CCSU was the continuity. He recognized the many student-athletes that returned to the school as coaches, both past and present, including former coaches John Webster, Ron Pringle and Howie Dickenman, as well as current coaches Beryl Piper and Eric Blake.
He also took a moment to recognize legendary coach Bill Detrick, who passed away in 2014. He even acknowledged Detrick’s wife, Barbara, who was in attendance.
“It’s been a pleasure being your public-address announcer for all these years,” Arnone said, in closing.
When asked what he’d miss the most about the job, Arnone said it was “this whole thing, the whole program, doing my thing—I’m going to miss it all.”
Despite ending his time as the public-address announcer, Arnone still plans on supporting the university’s athletics.
“I’ll take my spot in the stands next to my classmate [and former CCSU softball coach] Ron Pringle,” Arnone said. “He’ll still be the number one fan, but I’ll be the number two fan.”
As the banner on the press box stated, Arnone was a teacher, friend and gentleman, but most of all, he was truly a Blue Devil.