BLAKE SEBRING: Thanksgiving game is perfect way to honor Bob Chase

Until his death last Thanksgiving, Bob Chased called Fort Wayne Komets games for 63 years, usually with the help of Robbie Irons. (News-Sentinel file photo)

Even exactly one year later, I haven’t quite allowed my heart to believe that Bob Chase is actually gone. Just as I did the first two years after my dad passed, I still catch myself reaching for the phone at least three times a week, thinking, “I have to make sure Bob saw this,” or, “I wonder what Bob thinks about this?”

I still catch myself looking over my left shoulder during Komets home games to look up and make sure he’s OK in his booth “Live from Radio Rinkside.” Shane Albahrani always nods back. He understands exactly what I’m doing and thinking. We just all miss Bob, and many of us looked out for him over his final years, Albahrani included.

Thursday night, the Komets are going to honor their former announcer by hosting the first-ever Bob Chase Memorial Thanksgiving game. The Komets have played on Thanksgiving night since 1959, but this night will be even more special.

It may seem odd to memorialize the date of someone’s death, but this is a little different situation. First off, Chase’s favorite holiday was Thanksgiving and nothing else was even close. He always talked for weeks ahead of time about how he’d be getting up early to dress the bird and make sure it got into the oven on time. Then he’d talk about all the side dishes he’d prepare. He couldn’t wait for family members to show up, coming in from Colorado, Michigan and Alabama. The anticipation was better than Christmas for Chase.

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One reason his entire family was able to be with him in his final moments a year ago is because they were already coming home for Thanksgiving. They always knew how much the holiday meant to their patriarch, and no one would consider missing the feast he prepared.

A few days after Chase passed last Thanksgiving morning, his children Kurt, Karin and David hatched an informal plan to meet yearly in Fort Wayne for Thanksgiving. As soon as the idea came out of Karin’s mouth, it was a done deal. This was a way to honor their father and mother (who remains here in specialized care) and because, frankly, they all wanted to have an excuse to come see a Komets game. Why not? It’s what the family had always done for Thanksgiving, so why should this change anything?

The thing is, the Komets had a similar idea almost at the exact same time. They are going to use the event as an appropriate way to honor Chase but also raise funds for his beloved WOWO Penny Pitch. The team is selling the commemorative patches the players wore on their uniforms last year to honor Chase’s memory with all the proceeds going to Penny Pitch.

But really, Thanksgiving is always a good reason for family members to come home and have a reunion. Though the Chase family house sold this year, Fort Wayne is still home, the place they all grew up, and the place they all rally to. Even after Bob passed, it’s been common to see each of the children, and some grandchildren, show up in the press box every once in a while. They were somewhat paying attention to the game, but their real focus was always been on memories of Bob. In a way, it’s where they felt closest to him.

Those memories are what Thursday’s game will really be all about. Maybe within a few years there won’t be any players who remember Bob, but the fans and his family always will. And he deserves to be always remembered for what he meant to Fort Wayne, the Komets and to each of us.

Anywhere else it may seem a little odd to memorialize someone annually at a game, but to everyone involved honoring Bob Chase on the anniversary of his death is perfectly appropriate.

He’d love it. It’s Thanksgiving, after all. It’s always been Bob’s day.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Blake Sebring at

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