Jerry and Barry Kass have announced St. Augustine games for a combined 70 years

  • St. Augustine
  • 24/08/2017
Jerry and Barry Kass have announced St. Augustine games for a combined 70 years
CHRISTINA.KELSO@STAUGUSTINE.COM Barry Kass announces at St. Augustine High Schools kickoff classic against Clay last Friday. Kass and his father, Jerry, have announced at St. Augustine games for a combined 70 years. Fridays season opener at Foots Brumley Stadium will be the 71st with a Kass at the mic.

Barry Kass cant remember the year he took over as the public address announcer for St. Augustine High School football games.

But he knows that between him and his father, Jerry Kass, theyve been calling the plays and making announcements at the teams games for 70 seasons.

If you can remember the last time a Kass wasnt the primary PA announcer for St. Augustine, or its predecessor, Ketterlinus High, you go back an awfully long way.

My dad started doing it in 1947, when I was 1, said Barry, who is now 71. I started going to the games when I was 5 or 6 and I helped him as a spotter through high school. Around the late 70s or early 80s, he started spotting for me.

Fridays season opener at Foots Brumley Stadium will be the 71st with a Kass at the mic.

They probably came over (from Spain) with Pedro Menendez, joked Brad Davis, a 1972 St. Augustine grad and the president emeritus of the St. Augustine/Ketterlinus High School Alumni Association. Jerry Kass was a staple announcing high school games and he enjoyed every minute of it. He just did such a professional job with it.

Jerry Kass died during football season in 2012. He was 98 years old and attended Yellow Jacket games right up until his death, Barry said.

Our dad was a remarkable man, said Robin Burchfield, Barrys sister. He just loved sports from when he was a child growing up in New York City. He graduated from the University of Florida, and he was one of those Gator fans who bled orange and blue.

Jerry Kass was born in Jacksonville and spent much of his childhood in New York, where he was raised by an aunt. But St. Augustine was always his hometown. After serving in the Pacific in World War II as a major in the Marines, he settled down with his wife, Rita, in the Ancient City, where he would own two different grocery stores, and then a wholesale candy, tobacco and paper goods distributorship.

Jerry Kass didnt attend high school in St. Augustine, but his wife was a Ketterlinus High graduate.

Jerry would always get me my chewing tobacco, said Wendell McCraw, St. Augustines former athletic director and football coach, who was with the school from 1969 to 2001. Rita would get on me about my profanity. They were both very supportive of St. Augustine High School and involved in a lot of things.

Jerry was involved in just about every community organization in the county and was president or served on the boards of most of them. He had a 65-year perfect attendance record at the Kiwanis Club, where he served a term as president. He was also president of the Shrine Club, the First Congregation Sons of Israel and the Retired Senior Volunteer Program. He served on St. Augustines zoning and pension boards, and the boards of Flagler Hospital, Hospice of Northeast Florida, the YMCA and St. Johns County Welfare Federation.

He won so many awards and appreciations, Barry Kass said. And he always said, I didnt do anything.

He taught his two children that youre supposed to give back to your community, Burchfield said.

Burchfield said Jerry Kass also announced games at St. Joseph Academy and the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind, and emceed dozens of sports banquets.

Barry Kass graduated from St. Augustine High in 1964, attended junior college and served two years in the Navy, before returning home in 1968 and working with his father.

You dont often see a father-son team work so closely together, not only in business, but with the Kiwanis Club and volunteer work at the school, said Doug Wiles, the current president of the St. Augustine/Ketterlinus alumni association. They were always very close, sharing duties and responsibilities.

Which is why Barry cant remember when he formally began announcing Yellow Jackets games. Hed spot for his father one week, his father would spot for him another week.

The only time we ever missed a game was Yom Kippur, Barry said. After service, wed sneak out to the game and watch from the fence line. He wasnt going to miss it.

Barry has a bit of a different style than his father. Jerry once kicked a Florida State assistant coach out of the press box because he was wearing a Seminole golf shirt and cap, Barry said.

While neither Jerry nor Barry ever tried to make themselves bigger than the games they were announcing, Barry likes to keep it light and have fun. At times he can be mischievous. For example, for about 15 years straight, he credited one tackle a game to a friend of his.

Ted Quinney had more tackles than any individual ever, Barry says with a chuckle.

Barry remembers taking a train to Fort Lauderdale in 1963 and then watching the Yellow Jackets get pummeled, only to have to take the train all the way back.

The highlight game of the year from as far back as Barry Kass can remember has always been the St. Augustine-Palatka game. The rivalry sometimes got contentious, he said.

You didnt want to drive to the Palatka game with a car registered to St. Johns County or youd get sugar in your gas tank, he said. It was a gang war. We had to beat Palatka and they had to beat us.

The teams will play for the 98th time Nov. 3 at what is now known as Joey Wiles-Walt Slater Field at Foots Brumley Stadium.

Barrys oldest son, Joshua, helped his father several years ago, but didnt have the same passion for it, Barry says. Now Joshua, 45, brings his two sons to a game at least once a year and stops in the press box, so they can say hello to grandpa.

Robins husband, Rick Burchfield, has also filled in behind the mic, to keep it in the family, she said.

Ive been going to St. Augustine High School games since I was a little girl, Robin said, And its weird not to hear my fathers voice or my brothers voice.

Barry said he will keep announcing games as long as hes having fun.

Id have to get so old that I couldnt read anymore, he said.
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