PLYMOUTH - A fond memory of the culture of the town of Plymouth has lost one half of one of it’s most famous teams.
Last Friday Corky Lingle passed away at the age of 77. Corky had been in ill health the past few years.
In his younger days Corky and Rick Derf were the WTCA voice of nearly every Plymouth basketball and football memory that many of us have.
For more than 20 years they called Plymouth sports, to all those of us who didn’t happen to be at the game. They were honored by the IHSAA as one of the state’s best radio broadcast teams and in this writer’s case were a huge help and motivating force in what has become my life’s work.
Rick and Corky allowed me to tag along as a young broadcaster “in training”, and while it wasn’t CBS Sports I gained more usable, practical knowledge from these two than I ever could have anywhere else.
I asked Rick to share with me some of his thoughts about the passing of his good friend and partner of so many years. The following are his words.
“Corky was 10 years older than me but we were both kids at heart, perhaps a little too much so at times (most of the time). I was asked to find someone to do color commentary when I began doing play-by-play in 1967.
“I knew Cork from our family history and through the First United Methodist Church. We both played on the softball team and I knew he had a rounded knowledge of football and basketball. So I asked if he would like to be my color man. The rest is history.
“We started broadcasting Rochester Zebra games by tape delay on WTCA-FM and later became the Plymouth Rockies and Pilgrims broadcasters in 1971. The roadtrips were certainly ‘trips’.
Oh we had so much fun traveling and following high school teams in the area. I know that Cork’s most treasured moments were the 1977 Rockies claim to fame and of course, the 1982 Pilgrims State Championship. But the trip by Argos to the final four was also a huge memory we often discussed.
“One of the most exciting games we ever did during regular season came on the old Lincoln Field in 1974. Rochester came to town and it was supposed to be a fantastic rivalry clash. Well, Rochester scored three times in the first quarter and held a 21-0 lead.
“In the 4th quarter Rochester held a 38-19 advantage with about five minutes to play. Plymouth scored and recovered an on-side kick repeatedly and Marc Hayden ran into the end zone as the clock ran out of time and Plymouth escaped with a 39-38 come-from-behind thrilling victory. He talked often about that ending because it was so dramatic. And he thought we were going to fall off the light pole stand that night because a car bumped into the guy wire that supported our crows nest and the pole felt like it was going to go “timberrrrrr.”
“He was a great partner and kept things loose. He and I played off of each other so well. One night I read a commercial for Hawthorn Melody Ice Cream and, when done, he said I looked like I ate a 1/2 gallon of ice cream before the game.
“I said, ‘You’d be in trouble if I went on a diet and lost a lot of weight. You wouldn’t have anyone to pick on.’ He responded, ‘Shoot, your skeleton weighs more than I do.’
“He was a hoot. And I was so proud of the way he handled things after his speech was affected by a stroke a couple of years ago and the outlook he maintained after being told he had brain cancer.
“He was a winner and will be missed and loved by many.”