When Bob Rainey, WCCO-TV sports reporter and weekend sports anchor, was growing up in Rochester, N. Y., he would watch television sports with the sound off and provide his own play-by-play coverage.
Something about the Minnesota Vikings caught his fancy; he became a fan for life and later covered the team as a WCCO-TV sports reporter and weekend sports anchor.
Rainey, who told friends and family that moving to Minnesota in 2004 was a dream come true, died of colon cancer on July 26 in Minneapolis.
He was 46.
When he was 9 years old, "he would turn the sound down so he could do the play by play," said his mother, Mary Ellen Rainey of Rochester, N.Y.
He played sports announcer so much that he sometimes drove the family to distraction.
"But I just let him do his thing," his mother said.
He played several sports in high school and was a star in basketball and football.
While a college student at Xavier University in Ohio, he refined his reporting skills, covering sports for a Cincinnati radio station.
After graduating from Xavier, he worked in Rochester, N.Y.; Louisville, Ky.; Philadelphia and Nashville, before joining WCCO-TV.
Mark Rosen, WCCO's sports anchor, said Rainey met the opportunity of covering the team he had idolized as a child with enthusiasm.
His work was appreciated by Rosen and the Vikings.
"From top to bottom, he did it the right way, with class and dignity," Rosen said. "He always had a nice little twist to his stories."
Vikings coach Brad Childress said Rainey "was always very bright-eyed in press conferences."
"You could tell he was passionate, he was engaged. You appreciate that," Childress said.
Terri Gruca, weekend anchor and consumer reporter at the station, said Rainey last worked during the holidays.
He told only a few people about his illness.
"It was a way to be strong," Gruca said. "He loved his job, and he just wanted to do it."
He was enthusiastic about all sports, and often had the Golf Channel on, watching obscure tournaments from around the world.
"There wasn't a sport he didn't enjoy, watching or talking about," said Gruca, who once quizzed him on Kentucky Derby winners over the decades.
She said his memory was impressive, matching Derby years and horses' names.
"He was the walking sports encyclopedia," Gruca said.
In addition to his mother, he is survived by his sister, Robin Rainey Stanford of Rochester, and his grandmother, Ina Rainey, of Orlando, Fla.
Services will be held Aug. 2 in Rochester, N.Y.