Dicky Martin is humbled and proud to be the recipient of this year’s Distinguished Tomcat Award.
But there’s one person who would have been even prouder.
Richard Martin would have been smiling from one end of the press table to the other to see his protégé son enter such a prestigious club for a lifetime of broadcasting Tomcat basketball and football over the radio.
Truth be told, this award is kind of a father and son deal anyway because Richard Martin taught young son Dicky everything he knows.
Some people are born with a silver spoon in their mouths. Dicky Martin was born with a silver microphone in his mouth.
He owes a lot to his mother and father.
“With my dad involved in all the sporting events, he learned how to love kids and take care of them,” Dicky said. “With my mother teaching 38 years, she took care of thousands upon thousands. I’m lucky that they passed that down.”
Dicky has two grown children and a grandchild “that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.”
Dicky’s mother, Jeanie, is a retired teacher and counselor who worked 38 years in the Ashland school system. Richard Martin made his living in radio. He came to Ashland from Huntington in 1952 and made a home here while building a radio empire.
Part of that building process included broadcasting sports for the Ashland Tomcats. He did it with the same biting edge as his son. In other words, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
“People don’t remember that, but he was as bad or more or worse,” Dicky said through a laugh. “I don’t think I got barred from as many places as he did.”
But Richard Martin was highly respected inside and outside the community — even serving a stint as Ashland’s mayor. He was a businessman first and foremost, and he was responsible for launching many of the radio personalities that made the 1950s to 1970s great in the area.
Just like his son, Richard Martin was hard on referees and loved the Tomcats with unabashed passion. There was no secret about his Ashland bias. It screamed out over the air.
Dicky remembered when he was keeping the scorebook for his father and the Tomcats weren’t getting the calls that Richard Martin thought they should be getting. “He waved his handkerchief at him. The referee came over and said ‘You got something to say?’ Dad said ‘Here, talk right into the microphone.’’’
The referee rolled his eyes and proceeded to call the game but the seed had been sown. The calls slowly evened out.
Dicky remembers when he was learning to be a broadcaster how his father and mother would sit him down with a tape recorder so he could hear himself. “Being raised in Ashland, I had that twang, for lack of a better word,” he said. “They’d make me pronounce and annunciate my words until I got them right. It’s how I learned to speak properly on the air.”
Dicky also saw how much his father prepared for games and he’s taken that trait with him. Few radio broadcasters go into a game better prepared for a broadcast than Dicky Martin. He’s quick with the one-liners, but he says those aren’t rehearsed.
“They just kind of come out,” he said.
Sometimes he’d like to grab those words and swallow them.
But he wouldn’t be Dicky Martin if he did. There’s always a certain shock value to listening to Tomcat games on the radio. Maybe that’s why so many do.
“It’s very humbling that they bring their radios to ballgames,” he said.
Dicky Martin’s tone and demeanor on the radio is the same as when you’re talking to him in person.
His father was exactly the same way. Imagine how proud he would be when his son joins a list that includes the likes of Ralph Felty, Brandon Webb, Charlie Reliford and Bob Wright, among others, with the Distinguished Tomcat Award.
Richard Martin would be busting his buttons.
MARK MAYNARD can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2648.