Tony Parker had a deep baritone -- the kind of voice that moved people to say "You should be on the radio." After getting a master's degree in economics at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., the World War II veteran obliged, starting on the radio in central Illinois and serving Minnesota sports fans for decades as a TV sports announcer.
Parker, of Prior Lake, died Thursday of complications from a fall. He was 84.
Shortly after getting his start in broadcasting, he was told that Oliveto, his Italian last name, "will never do," said his daughter Vicki Richards of Shakopee. So he went with the suggested Parker, although he never legally changed his name.
He came to Minnesota from Illinois in 1955 for a job as sports anchor at what is now KMSP-TV, Channel 9. For decades, Parker was there, including when the Vikings and North Stars came to town and when the Minnesota Twins lost the 1965 World Series.
There was a time when he flew to New York to conduct interviews for ABC Sports. He had a chance to move there but "didn't want to move the family," daughter Paula Hughes of Bloomington said.
Born in Chicago, Parker met and married his wife, Phyllis, when they were teens; they were married 63 years and raised four daughters. Later in life, he spent much of his time attending his grandchildren's school and sporting events and taking them to games.
After KMSP-TV, he moved to WCCO-TV, Channel 4, where he covered high school hockey, among other things. There, Parker met Mike Max, now sports anchor for WCCO-TV and radio.
Over onion rings at Burger King, Parker mentored Max, telling him: "Don't sell your soul for the business because there's too many other things in life. ... He'd talk about how important his family was to him and raising his daughters," Max recalled.
And while the times changed, Parker didn't. "He was the old-fashioned sportscaster. He had the deep baritone, great pipes, you know. And he'd always say when I produced for him when I was younger, 'Nothing fancy, just the facts.' ... He just wanted to do a real straightforward, old-fashioned sportscast."
He could even announce a Lakers game from the studio, doing play-by-play using information coming over a ticker tape.
Parker also taught sportswriting and broadcast journalism at St. Cloud State University. He kept his foot in the business after retirement, writing for Bob Lurtsema's Viking Update.
He was preceded in death by his wife, lovingly known as "Paul." Besides daughters Vicki and Paula, he is also survived by daughters Beth Oliveto of Gardnerville, Nev., and Tracey Oliveto, of Carrboro, N.C.; five grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.
A memorial service will be held at 5 p.m. July 14, with visitation at 3:30 p.m. at Washburn-McReavy Edina Chapel.