By Brittany Burke
Joe’s Arnone’s game day delivery is one that CCSU sports fans have recognized for 50 years.
Arnone doesn’t have the name recognition of a Bob Sheppard or a Vin Scully; he’s just as ingrained in his surrounding sports culture – and has to be one of the best-kept secrets in the Northeast, if not the country.
“Nothing lasts forever but I’m not thinking along those lines,” Arnone said after a recent basketball game where he was honored for his service. “It’s been a great ride and I’ve enjoyed it.”
Some people graduate from college with no intentions of going back, but that wasn’t the case for Joe. He not only went back to CCSU, he never left, and Arnone makes no apologies for his hometown style.
“I’ve got to watch myself though because I’m not a very good spectator,” he said. “A matter of fact sometimes on the microphone I forget where I am and how I’m supposed to be neutral. I live and die with each victory and each defeat.”
There is only one voice that can be heard above the cheering of the crowds. There is one voice that goes above the cracking of a bat around the newly renovated baseball field, the methodic bouncing of a basketball atop the gym’s polished floors, and through the clanking of football pads on Arute Field.
That is the voice synonymous with CCSU athletics. That booming voice heard rolling through all of the CCSU campus on any given game belongs to 80-year old, resident Blue Devil and long-time public address announcer, Joe Arnone.
Joe’s game day delivery is something that has become engrained in the culture of Blue Devil sports.
“I’ve been working with Joe since the fall of 2002 when I left Hartford and came to CCSU,” said CCSU Sports Information Director, Tom Pincince. Working with Joe is great. You won’t find someone out there who has a greater love for Central.”
Dressed to call CCSU’s baseball game against UMass in gray sweatpants, a blue Central Connecticut hoodie, a tan hat with a sewn CC on the front and matching silver and blue Nikes, it’s clear that despite having to be neutral, what team Arnone’s allegiance truly lies.
Since his days as a night school student when the university was just a teacher’s college, and with all his time spent on campus, Arnone says he has no intention of leaving.
CCSU gave Joe a chance for a better life, an option other than a run of the mill blue collar worker.
Originally from a coal mining town in western Pennsylvania, it seemed that once he graduated high school his life would be mapped out for him. He would follow in the footsteps of his father and spend his days working below the ground as a coal miner.
“I grew up in a coal mining town and I knew I was headed to the coal mines just like my father and my brothers before me and I worked in a coal mine for three months. When I graduated from high school in May I worked for three months and I remember coming home one day and telling my father there had to be something better then emulating a mole for eight hours and then emerging into the daylight; that’s when I joined the Marine Corps,” Joe said.
Three months after his graduation Joe decided he’d had enough and enlisted with two other friends. The Marine Corps took him away from Pennsylvania and planted him in Korea for 18 months, but it also brought him closer to his future wife.
While overseas he met a fellow Marine. She was from New Britain, and their friendship eventually turned into more. It was their marriage that brought Joe to New Britain.
“I went back to Pennsylvania to visit my parents a few times over the years before they passed away but I never went back in permanent fashion. I’ve been in Connecticut since 1955,” he said.
Being the school’s number one public address announcer wasn’t Joe’s first encounter with CCSU, it wasn’t even his first job. During his time as a night school student at CCSU, he was accepted into the daytime program. By the time he was finished with his teaching degree and had a job lined up in the Farmington school system, he was also father and husband.
During the day he’d spend his time teaching physics, a passion that is still evident in his explanations of why the baseball field’s press box isn’t aerodynamically sound, and in the afternoon he’d travel back to the CCSU campus to work in the athletics department.
Whether it was running around writing press releases on a type writer to send out to local newspapers, working as an adjunct professor, teaching baseball umpiring, serving as a Blue Devil coach, or doing what he’s best known for, it’s clear that Blue Devil pride runs through his veins. It’s something that despite all of these years he just can’t seem to shake.
“I went to school one full year at night and made good grades, I worked hard,” said Arnone. “I was working all the time and I was married. I got married in 1955 and our first kid came along in ‘56 a year later, the second one in ’58. So I worked my way through this place I’m proud to say and it’s an important part of my life and I’d like to give back.”
Giving back is just what he’s been doing for the past 50 years. After fully taking over as public address announcer in 1962, Joe has been getting paid a stipend, but he doesn’t keep it. Instead he donates the money he gets paid, plus some, back to the school.
“What most people don’t know about Joe is that every penny he makes working as the PA announcer at various sports goes right back to CCSU. He is a loyal supporter and the most loyal person you will ever meet,” said Pincince.
“It keeps me young, it keeps me going,” said Joe. “I receive a stipend for my work but I give it all back to a scholarship fund. I don’t take any money, in fact, I put more in than they pay me but it’s been a love affair, a real love affair.”
All of his efforts were honored last year by Pincince, during a men’s basketball game. The acknowledgement of all his time behind the microphone elicited a drowning round of applause by the fans, coaches, athletes and administration.
“[Tom] totally caught me off guard that’s for sure. I was a little surprised. I said at the time because I had to say a few words, it just proves if you hang around long enough you get noticed,” said Joe.
Even after all these years and all the time he spent as a student and student athlete, a coach and a professor, he still can’t imagine letting go of his position with the school.
“Nothing lasts forever and I understand that and there will be a time when I won’t be able to do it physically and or mentally and I’ll have to let it go, but I’m not thinking along those lines. I’m sure the day will come; I just hope it’s pretty far down the road. It’s been a great ride and I’ve enjoyed it.”
Joe will be back this year, his voice ringing above all else, narrating the Blue Devils’ 2012-2013 season.