Skip to main content

College of Arts and Sciences Newsroom

Bob Socci

‘Voice of the Patriots’ Bob Socci ’89 launched broadcasting career as UD student

By Dave Larsen

The voice of the New England Patriots got his start as a University of Dayton Flyer.

Bob Socci ’89 recently completed his 11th year as the Patriots’ radio play-by-play announcer, having called four Super Bowl games, including three championships. Previously, he was the play-by-play voice of the Navy Midshipmen football team for 16 seasons and Navy basketball for 12 seasons.

Socci holds a bachelor’s degree in communication from UD with a broadcast journalism focus. As a student, he did some sports-talk and broadcast a few games for an on-campus student radio station, but it was a paid experiential learning opportunity in University of Dayton Athletics that set him on a path to success.

“I got involved in sports information and that led to tremendous opportunities from there to ultimately help get where I am today,” Socci said.

A native of Auburn, New York, Socci discovered his calling at a young age. He played Little League baseball, wore replica Johnny Bench and Tom Seaver uniforms, and provided commentary on big league games.

“We had a finished basement, and I created my own little TV studio, and I would sit in front of the TV and pretend that I was broadcasting events,” he said. “So, I knew at 11 or 12 that’s what I wanted to do.”

The University of Dayton wasn’t Socci’s first choice, but he was won over by the warm welcome he received on his first visit to campus. He applied on the advice of a recruiter from Boston College, who said UD would be perfect for him. After several disappointments elsewhere, his father offered to take him on a last-minute ride to Dayton — right before Easter break.

They arrived at UD unannounced and went to the admissions office, where staff scrambled to find a student to give them a campus tour before heading home for break.

“As we walked from place-to-place, people said hello — ‘Hey, how are you?’ I thought, ‘What a welcoming environment,’” Socci said. “It just felt right. It felt right from the moment we stepped out of the car. That’s the experience I had since day one when I went to school there.”

Socci played high school baseball on championship teams. He tried out for UD’s team during the fall of his freshman year but didn’t make the cut, which he called “a blessing in disguise.”

Bob Socci '89

Near the end of his first year, Socci was introduced to Doug Hauschild ’81, UD director of athletics communications/media relations, by fellow student and sports fan Dave Mullaney ’88.

“I found my niche,” Socci said. He worked “day and night” in the sports information office and served for two years as media contact for the UD women’s basketball team, traveling with the team for road games.

Hauschild recalled Socci as part of a “tremendous group of student workers,” who also included Mullaney and Brett Hoover ’86. All three landed jobs in athletics communications after graduation.

“We tried to give our students plenty of rope as part of their educational experience, and that group in particular ran with it,” Hauschild said. “They were all talented, hard-working and fun to work with. I remember they all had a blast being able to do what they were doing. Even then, Bob was kind of first among equals in terms of taking on whatever was in front of him.”

That experience led Socci to an internship during his junior and senior years as a publicity assistant for the Cincinnati Reds. He provided statistics and game information to the broadcasters and reporters covering games. He also filed game reports every half-inning to Sports Ticker, a pre-Internet service that provided news and scores to stadium sites, sports bars and newspapers.

Socci also took the opportunity to practice his play-by-play for several innings each game in an unused press box, calling the games into a tape recorder.

“Over time, I got a little better,” he said. “When I graduated and eventually got into professional baseball — because I took the minor league baseball path in broadcasting — I used a cassette from one of the games that I had recorded at Riverfront Stadium.”

After graduation, Socci spent one year working in the University of North Carolina sports information office. He then took a public relations job with the Rochester Red Wings, a AAA baseball team in upstate New York, where he started doing radio play-by-play. That led to full-time broadcasting jobs for minor league baseball teams in Peoria, Illinois and Salisbury, Maryland.

In 1996, Socci started as a fill-in at the U.S. Naval Academy, calling Midshipmen basketball games while still doing play-by-play for the Delmarva Shorebirds minor league baseball team. One year later, he became “the voice of Navy athletics.” He called Navy football games for 15 years, while moving around the country for seasonal jobs with minor league baseball teams.

After getting married in 2008, he relocated to the Boston area to be near his wife Monique’s parents and start a family. He continued to broadcast at the Naval Academy, while sending recordings of his football play-by-play to potential employers. He sent a CD to Gil Santos, the “voice of the Patriots” for 36 years and a member of the team’s hall of fame.

“It was funny,” Socci said. “He said, ‘Do me a favor. Wait for me to retire before you take my job.’ He wrote that in jest. I still have that email. It gave me a lot of confidence.”

In 2009, Socci met with the program director of CBS Radio’s 98.5 The Sports Hub, a Boston all-sports station that broadcast Patriots games, but he didn’t hear back for three years. He was preparing to take a job with the Pawtucket Red Sox when he got an email saying Santos was going to retire, and Socci had been recommended for the Patriots play-by-play job.

He said stepping into the role midway through the Patriots’ run of six Super Bowl championships in 18 seasons was “surreal.”

“I was just trying to find my way and create my space in our broadcast booth, knowing that I could never fill Gil Santos’ shoes,” he said. “At the same time, I’m along for the ride with the greatest quarterback, the greatest coach — still, I think, despite the last few seasons — part of this Patriots dynasty.”

Socci said it is “incredibly humbling” to be the voice fans heard during many great moments in team history. But win or lose, he is grateful to call games.

“I get to do what I love and dreamed of as a kid,” he said.

Socci hasn’t visited UD’s campus since he graduated, but in recent years he’s connected with College of Arts and Sciences Dean Danielle Poe, as well as Steve Bulpett ’79, a longtime Boston Celtics reporter who serves as a visiting lecturer in UD’s Department of Communication.

“As a Patriots fan myself, I was especially excited to meet Bob Socci because I’ve listened to his play-by-play announcing on Patriots broadcasts streaming from 98.5 The Sports Hub for years,” said Chad Painter, associate professor and Department of Communication chair.

“Our exceptional alumni are a huge selling point to potential students, and they speak volumes about the quality education you can get from the UD communication department,” Painter said.

Socci, who taught a sports public relations course last year at Emerson College in Boston, has discussed ideas with Painter such as meeting with students on an East Coast version of the department’s annual Flyers in Hollywood trip, or doing Zoom visits with students as a guest lecturer.

“I’ve had an interest in teaching for a while now,” Socci said. “I did that for a semester and I loved it. I would like to do more of that, and I would love to give back to UD.”

For more information, visit the UD Department of Communication website.

Middle of the page: Patriots’ radio play-by-play announcer Bob Socci '89 interviews former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (New England Patriots). Bottom of page: Patriots’ radio play-by-play announcer Bob Socci '89 interviews former Patriots offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer in Frankfurt, Germany, before the Patriots played the Colts during the 2023 season (David Silverman).

Bob Socci '89

Previous Post

In memoriam: Ellie Stockum, professor emerita of English

Eleanore “Ellie” Krage Stockum, professor emerita of English and author of a definitive text on writing basics, died late last year.
Read More
Next Post

In memoriam: J. Philip Gleason ’51, alumnus and American Catholic historian

J. Philip Gleason ’51, an eminent American historian, University of Dayton alumnus and recipient of UD’s Marianist Award, died Jan. 17.
Read More