Voice of LSU athletics, Jim Hawthorne to retire in 2016
Jim Hawthorne, the legendary Voice of the Tigers who has been on the radio call of thousands of LSU events for the past 35 years, announced that he will retire following the 2015-16 basketball season.
Hawthorne, who first joined LSU as the play-by-play commentator for the men's basketball team in 1979-80, will call his final season of LSU baseball this spring. Hawthorne will call LSU football games this fall and the wrap-up his career with the Tigers with the 2015-16 men's basketball season.
"I have been exceptionally blessed and extremely fortunate to have been part of the LSU Radio broadcast team for more than 30 years," Hawthorne said. "But, now it has come time to prepare to step aside and move into a new phase in my life. At the end of the 2015-16 basketball season I will retire from this position. At the age of 71, I look very much forward to spending more time visiting my family and traveling with my wife and best friend, Carol.
"I want to sincerely thank the LSU administration, all of the coaches I have had the pleasure to work with and the entire Fighting Tiger nation for their support. It has meant more to me than I could possibly describe. I also want to wish, for whomever is chosen to take over these responsibilities, the very best. I hope he will understand what a gift he has been given and has the chance to experience many years as ‘The Voice of the Tigers' and the thrills it has given me."
Hawthorne, a native of Anacoco, La., and a 1967 graduate of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, La., has called some of the greatest moments in the history of LSU Athletics. As the Voice of the Tigers, Hawthorne has been on the broadcast for all six of LSU's national championships in baseball, two national titles in football and three Final Four appearances for the men's basketball team.
"Jim is a true LSU legend and one of the very best in the broadcast business," LSU Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Joe Alleva said. "When you hear Jim's voice, you immediately think LSU. That's the mark of a great play-by-play man. His passion and enthusiasm for LSU translates into his broadcast and he has the innate ability to paint a picture about what's happening on each play that makes the listener feel as if they are part of the action.
"Our fans have grown up listening to him call LSU sports. We congratulate him on a great career and thank him for all that he's done for LSU. We are going to miss him."
Hawthorne joined the LSU football broadcast team in 1983, handling the color analyst job alongside John Ferguson. After the 1983 season, Ferguson transitioned to TigerVision and Hawthorne took over as the play-by-play commentator for the Tigers.
Since taking over play-by-play duties in 1984, Hawthorne hasn't missed an LSU football game, broadcasting 380 straight games. That streak has included some of the most unforgettable moments in school history, which includes a 21-14 win over Oklahoma in the 2003 BCS Championship Game as well as the 38-24 victory over Ohio State in the 2007 national title contest.
Hawthorne has called 22 bowl games for the Tigers and he was behind the microphone for the "Earthquake Game" against Auburn in 1988, the 28-21 win over No. 1 Florida in Tiger Stadium in 1997, and the "Game of the Century" in 2011 when top-ranked LSU kicked a field goal in overtime to beat No. 2 Alabama, 9-6, in Tuscaloosa.
Some of the highlights of Hawthorne's career calling men's basketball include Final Four appearances in 1981, 1986 and 2006 along with five SEC championships. He introduced basketball fans to some of the best players to ever wear the LSU uniform in Shaquille O'Neal, Mahmoud Abdul-Rouf (then Chris Jackson), Stromile Swift, Glen Davis, Brandon Bass. He also called the final two years of Rudy Macklin's career with the Tigers.
As LSU's baseball play-by-play announcer since 1984, Hawthorne has described some of the most memorable moments in school history, including all 57 of the Tigers' games in the College World Series.
Other highlights of his baseball broadcasting career include LSU's win over Tulane in 1986 to advance to the CWS for the first time; the Tigers' epic NCAA Regional games against Southern California in the 1990s; the final game in the original Alex Box Stadium in 2008; when LSU defeated UC Irvine to earn a CWS berth; and NCAA Super Regional wins over Rice (2009) and Oklahoma (2013) in the New Alex Box Stadium.
In addition to his role at LSU, Hawthorne has held play-by-play jobs at Northwestern State and Centenary College as well as calling Texas League baseball and World Football League broadcasts where he worked alongside talk show legend Larry King. His first play-by-play job came in 1961 at Leesville High School where he called play-by-play for the Wampus Cats football team.
A nationwide search for Hawthorne's successor will begin in the spring.