Remembering Hot Rod Hundley
News of the death of legendary Utah Jazz broadcaster Hot Rod Hundley broke and quickly got around on social media Friday evening.
Hundley was 80 years old and had been battling Alzheimer’s disease, so he’s in a better place now. But “Hot” Rod was the voice of the Utah Jazz for 35 years. He endeared himself to fans with his golden voice and catchy sayings. His signature saying was “You gotta love it, baby!” You can read a great tribute to Hot Rod and recap his life’s accomplishments on this Deseret News article by Randy Hollis.
Another colleague and talented writer, Doug Robinson, wrote an insightful profile on Hot Rod in 2003 for the Deseret News, then followed it up with another piece last year. I recommend reading both articles.
Growing up I listened to him on a radio in my room and grew to love the Jazz and NBA basketball through his amazing descriptions. He was a special talent, a delight to listen to, and I wished he could have called Jazz games forever.
In honor of Hot Rod Hundley, I dug up this old photo and my first media pass from Dec. 27, 1999, Utah vs. Phoenix.
I had just returned from my LDS mission and was interested in a sports writing career. Terry Munns, my high school journalism teacher, asked KSL’s Rod Zundel (a proud Bear River alum) to help us get passes so I could experience a Jazz game as a member of the media. One of the highlights was meeting Hot Rod before the game in the media room. He was kind enough to take a photo with me. Having listened to so many games over the years, meeting Hot Rod was a big deal for me.
Years later, when I was helping to cover the Jazz for a daily newspaper in Ogden, I was fortunate enough to interact with him a few times towards the end of his career. He was always very approachable and fun to visit with.
When I was in high school in the early 1990s, there was a hotel fire that destroyed a few businesses in Tremonton, my hometown. Rod Zundel organized a charity basketball game and sports celebrities around the state, including many from the Utah Jazz organization, participated. Hot Rod was kind enough to come and be part of the festivities. The crowd loved him and the proceeds helped the businesses to start over.
So in honor of his passing, I just wanted to share this and say, we’ll miss you, Hot Rod. There will never be another sports broadcaster quite like you.