Sad news Monday morning as WCCO confirmed that legendary Gopher play-by-play announcer Ray Christensen died Sunday evening at the age of 92.
Sad news for the WCCO family this morning. We've learned legendary play-by-play man Ray Christensen has died. More coverage on air today.— WCCO Radio (@wccoradio) February 6, 2017
His son confirmed the news to the Star Tribune saying he died after an upper respiratory infection. Christensen began calling Gopher football on WCCO in 1951 and began calling basketball games in 1956. He continued non-stop until he retired in 2001. Christensen did come back to broadcast a portion of the first game in TCF Bank Stadium to ensure he would be the only broadcaster to have broadcasted from Memorial Stadium, the Metrodome, and TCF. He was the voice multiple generations of Gopher fans knew by heart, and can still hear running through their heads today.
Christensen was not only beloved by Minnesotans, but got national respect as well. The National Football Foundation honored Christensen with the Chris Schenkel Award for Broadcasting Excellence in 2000. Christensen was inducted into the “M Club” Hall of Fame in 1995, and was inducted into the Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2002.
After serving in World War II, Christensen attended the U of M, and lettered in baseball in 1948. He began his broadcasting career at the University owned KUOM after graduating from the U in 1949. He then became the Program and Sports Director at WLOL while doing his play-by-play duties. Christensen joined WCCO full time in 1963 until his retirement from general radio in 1993. He would continue to do Gopher games until the end of the 2001 basketball season. Along with the 510 Gopher Football games and 1,309 Gopher Basketball Games Christensen broadcasted in his career, he also broadcasted Twins baseball, Vikings football, Minneapolis Lakers basketball, along with high school sports, some golf and some hockey.
Tributes to the Gopher legend were pouring in on twitter Monday morning:
Getting to know the great Ray Christensen is among my greatest thrills. He was the most polite, gentle, sharp, skilled man I've ever met— Mike Grimm (@MikeGrimm3) February 6, 2017
I loved visiting Ray and Ramona at their townhouse so Ray would record his memories and commercials. So welcoming and gracious.— Mike Grimm (@MikeGrimm3) February 6, 2017
Ray would record up to 20 spots in 1 sitting. He would breeze thru all of them and never make a mistake. Always hit his mark. Amazing.— Mike Grimm (@MikeGrimm3) February 6, 2017
AUDIO: Ray Christensen's chill-inducing call of Darrell Thompson's 98-yard TD run in 1987. Rest in peace Ray. https://t.co/TDUxDrdYL5— Minnesota Football (@GopherFootball) February 6, 2017
Here is a clip of Christensen’s highlights from when he was inducted into the Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2002.
WCCO broadcasted this short tribute on the air this morning:
Leave your Ray Christensen memories in the comments below. I’m sure every Gopher Fan older than about 25 has one.
RIP to a Golden Gopher Legend.