Ithaca Times: How did you get started with doing the PA for Cornell hockey?
Arthur Mintz: I came to Cornell in 1967, right after they had won their first national championship. I had always been a hockey fan growing up, so this was a great place to go and watch the best team in the country. I always wanted to get involved with sports in some fashion; I couldn’t play the game to save my life, but that’s all right.
A couple of years after I graduated they formed a men’s league in town, and several former Cornell players had stayed on after they graduated—they were playing in that league. Several of them wanted to try and find better competition from what they were getting, so they formed this traveling barnstorming team called the Ithaca Stars.
A guy that I had met in the stands at Lynah [Rink] while I was a student had gotten involved with them and he said they were looking for somebody to do publicity for them and work at the games and stuff like that, and would I be interested? I had never done anything like that before, but I said, ‘Sure, I can do that.’ So that’s where I got started.
In 1974, the team was called the Ithaca Stars—I had graduated in ’71. You learn an awful lot when you are sitting at the scorer’s table and announcing and running the clock and keeping track of penalties and keeping score and watching people brawl on the ice, dealing with the fact that you need to pay people at the rink but you don’t have any money.
Long story short, I was the publicist and general manager of that thing for six years. Through that, I got to know the people at Cornell Sports and Information. After the Stars folded (because you can’t run a hockey team for very long if you don’t have any money, and people like being paid and they won’t give you ice time if you don’t pay them), I then got involved with the Cornell junior variety team. I had the six years of experience doing all the off-ice stuff that they needed. In 1983 they needed somebody to be an official scorer for the men’s games and I was asked if I was interested in doing that. I was.
And then in 1986 Barlow Ware—who had been the original announcer at Lynah Rink when it opened—was in an automobile accident and broke his leg, and they needed someone to replace him as public address announcer. I did it for a year, and I guess they were so impressed with the job I did that the next year they asked me.
IT: So you started in 1987.
AM: I started full-time as the public address announcer in 1987-88 season. I had filled in a couple of games before that and I had done a couple of games with the JVs [junior varsity]. But I became the regular PA announcer for hockey in ’87. Actually, a year before that, in ’86, they had asked me if I wanted to do football. I really wanted the hockey job, but I figured if I told them no for the football job, they wouldn’t ask me for the hockey job. I do both of them, football since ’86, hockey since ’87.
IT: What do you love about hockey over football?
AM: The reason I wanted the hockey job was the atmosphere at Lynah Rink. It was a big difference between one team—which was just coming off a national championship when I started and then won another national championship with the legendary undefeated team, and had always been a powerhouse in the Ivy League and in the country—versus Cornell’s football team. It’s a nice program, but we have three shared Ivy League championships in all the years the Ivy League has been around. It’s a totally different atmosphere.
IT: What specific games or memories have you had watching Cornell hockey over the years?
AM: As a student, probably the game I remember most was a game against Boston College, because it was always a big deal to get one of the Boston teams to travel to Ithaca and play us. But what I remember about that game was that it started at 8:00 and it was cold and snowy. My friends and I got in line outside of Lynah, because back in those days the way you got in was by standing in line outside the rink until they threw the doors open at 6:30 or 7:00. You went in and ran for your seats. We got in line at 2:00 to make sure we got good seats for that game. That’s why I remember it.
Doing the PA, there have been a lot of memories. A lot of things are memorable to me because I announced the things that happened. Not so much because of the hockey things; I’ve seen so many games that they all start to run together. The game where we paged the goal judge and asked him to come over to the scorer’s table because the referees wanted to talk to him, and they couldn’t hear what he was saying through the glass—that was one of the stranger incidents in hockey history.
I just had what could have been a real memorable game, a game against a Russian team. I’ll tell you a funny story about that one: before the game, I always go over the names of the players with somebody from the opposite team because I think it’s only polite to pronounce people’s names correctly—you should not embarrass yourself or other people by pronouncing names incorrectly. So I have this roster of Russian names. I’m not from Russia, and I don’t speak Russian, but I’m usually pretty good at pronunciations. I got the list of names in advance, and they had an interpreter with the team. I got together with her and I’m going through the list of names, and after I knock off the first half-dozen names or so on the list absolutely perfectly, she looks at me and says, “Are you Russian?”
IT: What about Cornell hockey do you love that has kept you staying as long as you have?
AM: The game itself sucks you in. Most people who follow hockey will tell you that after you go to one or two games, it just sucks you in. It’s faster moving than most sports, and it requires an incredible amount of skill. You watch the things those men and women do on the ice, and you wonder how they can manage. To do all that, at that speed, on skates, chasing this little tiny puck that’s moving at 80, 90, 100 miles per hour… It’s a great thing to watch. I’ve been a hockey fan since we’d get New York Rangers games on the TV and I’d watch them. So that’s what got me into hockey. Growing up, I’d always been good at doing things with my voice; I took a radio dramatics class and a drama class in high school. I was into acting for a while, which got knocked out of me when I came to Cornell. So this was a chance to get involved with a program where I always seemed to excel, to meet people that I ordinarily wouldn’t have the chance to meet, and to use my skills to help those people as much as I could. •