A Cleveland sports media star visited the Mahoning Valley and unlike most media members from the North Coast, this personality held his own as he talked about the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, Youngstown State University sports and the hotbed of high school football that exists here.
Bruce Drennan brought his SportsTime Ohios "All Bets Are Off" show live to the opening day of the Canfield Fair on Wednesday, Aug. 31.
The three-hour cable TV talk show usually hits the trials and tribulations of the Cleveland sports teams, the Browns, Indians and Cavaliers, plus the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Bruce talks to fans on a break; Ashley Collins gets ready to interview top fan "Cadillac"
But this special edition at the fair brought Bruce into contact with officials from the Scrappers, the YSU womens basketball coach and WFMJ-TV sports director Dana Balash.
Balash and Drennan sized up many area high school football teams and Bruce was most interested in why Harding dropped its opener to Fitch, 28-7. "Are they rebuilding?" Bruce said.
Bruce also wanted to know why defending state champ Ursuline lost so big to a team from Delaware. Balash told him the Delaware team was loaded with a quarterback who was recruited as a seventh grader by USC coach Lane Kiffin.
But Drennan was not only in Canfield to talk high school football.
During commercial breaks, Drennan was like a politician, taking pictures with fans and signing autographs on blue SportsTime Ohio t-shirts that were passed out to the fairgoers. He was even seen cooing up to a few babies. After the show, Bruce spent about half hour talking sport with one of his handicapped fans and his mother. Make no mistake about it, Bruce has that personal touch that you rarely see in a sports media talk show host who would rather argue than kibbutz.
"I love you Canfield Fair!!!" His booming voice sounded as the show started right in front of the huge grandstand. "Welcome to the largest county fair in the country!"
Bruce does not have your typical sports media resume. You see, he served a few months in the federal pen a few years back for a tax evasion charge. But he doesn't shy away from his legal mess. He often brings it up and readily admits that he has paid his debt and now wants to walk the straight and narrow.
And sports often offers the balm. "I am not ashamed to call myself a sports historian." Bruce said during breaks from his broadcast on Wednesday.
Of course, Bruce Drennan was behind the mike on that historic May day in 1981 when Indian pitcher Len Barker twirled a perfect game against the Toronto Blue Jays. And he will always be remembered for bounding out on the field to get the first interview with the star pitcher.
To see and hear Bruce, you would think that he was a lifetime Clevelander. Actually, he is a Chicago native and landed a radio sports talk job in Cleveland in the late 1970s. In addition to his three years of doing Indians TV games on WUAB-TV with Joe Tait, Bruce will be remembered as replacing the legendary radio sports talk star Pete Franklin on 1100-AM radio.
An adopted Clevelander, but he bleeds Indians' red white and blue or Browns brown and orange. You are on your own when you joke about Cleveland or pick on its fans around Bruce. And when LeBron left Bruces beloved town, the sports personality just refers to him disgustingly as "You Know Who?"
My favorite Bruce moment was during a frustrating post-game shows after the Browns had dropped a tough one to the Steelers. Bruce was so exasperated with a caller that he literally kicked the Steeler helmet off the set. To this Browns fan who has broken quite a few portable radios in his day, I can relate.
"I love you, Bruce!"