It rained last Saturday.

To be accurate, a pretty fierce storm rolled through here Saturday morning.

It rained hard enough that the Warsaw baseball team had to cancel their four-way tournament at Tiger Field.

As news of the cancellation spread throughout town, the realization that more than just baseball games being called off due to weather was happening.

It was the end of an era.

Saturday was the last scheduled Tiger sporting event for public address announcer Ron Henry.

Henry has been announcing at games for his entire adult life—more than six decades worth of games, and more than 40 years here in this community.

He has lent his voice to football, basketball and baseball games for high school and college teams, and when he is announcing a game, you notice.

His voice is deep and booming. It’s one that makes you stop and listen when you hear it. It’s the voice of authority, and it commands respect and attention.

That fact is ironic, because the man the voice belongs to is as humble and unassuming as you will ever find.

Henry is not a large human, but don’t be deceived…his physical stature is not reflective of his presence.

He is tough. He’s beaten cancer. I think it’s fair to say that most of the games he has missed (which isn’t very many) during his four decades in Warsaw and Winona Lake were because he was receiving cancer treatments.

And when he’s positioned behind the microphone of a sports venue, you know what you are going to get.

He’s a professional.

The public address announcer has a job to do and a very important role to play. Primarily, that role involves informing and educating those in attendance what has just happened, what is happening and what is about to happen and do it as quickly as possible.  

Ron Henry has taken that mission very seriously. There are a lot of styles of public address announcers, and Ron’s style would be best described as “solid and consistent”. He uses his voice to say what needs to be said, and then he stops talking.

PA announcers are not the main attraction at a sporting event. Being efficient with verbiage is critical to being good at that job.

Ron was elite in that way.

He never tried to do too much. He never tried to overstep his boundaries. He never lost sight of his role of supporting and enhancing the fans’ game-night experience.

Too many announcers try too hard to build and maintain the enthusiasm of the crowd by being louder than they need to be and talking more that they should.

Ron Henry would raise his voice only so he could be heard over the roar of the crowd in the largest of moments.

I think of two times in particular where Ron’s voice ramped up in a magic moment in the Tiger Den.

Fort Wayne Luers and Deshaun Thomas were in town to take on Nic Moore and the Tigers, and the Tiger Den was packed. In the final two minutes of a close game, Thomas missed a short shot and Moore grabbed the rebound and took off like a jack rabbit. Zack Linky ran to the right corner at the west end, Moore found him, and Linky hit a three-pointer that launched a roar that rattled the rafters. In listening back to that highlight over the years, Ron’s announcement of the basket was equal to the power of the feeling in the gym.

I also remember his voice as part of the game-winning, last-second shot by former Tiger Michael Wienhorst that not only won that game, but it also won the Northern Lakes Conference championship.

I should also mention that no one read the senior night announcements like Ron has. Almost every year, his voice would crack with emotion as he finished, and then invited the fans to acknowledge the seniors and their families. He has made those moments extra special.

But what we all will remember is that moment just before the announcement of the starting lineups before every game in the Tiger Den, when Ron would turn on the mic and say “Good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Tiger Den, home of the fighting Tigers.”

If you’re heart wasn’t pounding through your chest wall before that, it was then.

A search will take place in the early fall to find his replacement. Someone is going to fill that seat at the end of the scorer’s table. Someone is going to have to pick up that microphone and speak into it.

They may have a different style than Ron. That’s ok.

They probably will have a different voice. That’s ok, too.

But the importance of the job and the person who holds it will remain the same.

When you see Ron Henry, don’t be afraid to ask him about his career. He’ll tell you about it.

And he’ll do it with that voice that has echoed through the air in the same way the thunder that wiped out his final game did.

Many people have introduced me, and others, as “the Voice of the Tigers”. But I quickly and politely correct them by saying “the only Voice of the Tigers is Ron Henry.”

Thanks, Ron, for everything. You are a treasure, and we have been blessed to have you.