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Hirsch joins Georgia Radio Hall of Fame
Nate Hirsch was inducted into the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame Saturday in Macon. Hirsch is also a member of the Halls of Fame at Statesboro High and Georgia Southern. - photo by Courtesy GSU Athletics

    Nate Hirsch just finished his career’s triple crown.
    Hirsch, the long-time Georgia Southern athletics and area sports radio broadcaster, who has already been inducted into the Statesboro and GSU athletics Halls of Fame, was named Saturday to the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame at a ceremony in the Wilson Convention Center in Macon.
    Hirsch attended the ceremony as a nominee, unsure if he was going to hear his name called.
    “Going over to the thing, I wasn’t counting on getting in,” Hirsch said. “I was pretty relaxed. I made up my mind that we were going and we were going to show support.”
    Hirsch is best known as the voice of the Eagles, which he became when he started his career in Statesboro in the fall of 1970, continuing until 2006.
    Among his best memories, he called six football national titles, two trips to the baseball College World Series and three trips to the NCAA’s March Madness men’s basketball tournament.
    Hirsch called Frankie Johnson’s legendary touchdown catch from Tracy Ham against Furman in the 1985 national championship game, but feels like two years prior, when the men’s basketball team made it to the NCAA tournament the first time, is right up there with the greatest moments.
    “Everybody always asks me, ‘What’s the biggest call?’ Obviously the Frankie Johnson touchdown,” Hirsch said. “But Eric Hightower’s shot (an 18-foot buzzer beater in the Trans-America Athletic Conference championship game) in Little Rock that beat them was probably as dramatic. It sent us to the NCAA tournament for the first time.”
    Hirsch has always had an emotional attachment to the teams he’s covered, an attachment that extended to Statesboro High and Bulloch Academy, too.
    “Before BA had lights,” Hirsch said, “I’d do the BA game on Friday afternoon and the Statesboro game that night. I was very immature those days. I couldn’t go to sleep on a Friday night after a tough loss. The first time (SHS) beat Benedictine — I know this sounds crazy — I was in tears. We finally beat them down there. I thought we’d never beat them down there.”
    Hirsch realized very early in his career that his work was all about the community.
    “I grew up in New York City,” Hirsch said. “I went to school in the mid west, Indiana State, and I come south in 1970 and the first thing I’m doing is reading the feeder pig sales. But it was local. Everything was local.”
    Perhaps the biggest accomplishment came in 1973, and it wasn’t because of Georgia Southern’s first trip to the College World Series.
    The radio network became the first ever to broadcast the entire college baseball schedule both home and away.
    It wasn’t always easy. Schools like Jacksonville weren’t exactly set up for radio.
    “They ran a wire all the way through the trees, and they didn’t have a press box or anything, so I had to turn over a trash can to have a seat,” Hirsch said. “I remember I was broadcasting, and the umpire turned around and said, ‘Can you tone it down a little bit?’”
    Larger programs took notice to Hirsch’s dedication.
    “Everybody said, ‘Georgia Southern can do it. Why shouldn’t we be able to do it?” he said.
    Hirsch did his best to make sure everybody in the community was on the radio. Whether it was hustling from the Statesboro game on Friday to the Georgia Southern road game on Saturday, going back and forth from a playoff football game in Murfreesboro, Tenn., to a basketball tournament in Chattanooga, or even attending his daughter’s graduation at Georgia Southern in 1998 and hustling to Chattanooga for a national championship game later that evening, it’s easy to see why Hirsch has received so many accolades.
    “I always felt like I had to be there,” he said.

    Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.