Rice University hosts the ninth annual J.Fred Duckett/Rice Twilight track and field meet on Saturday, April 21. Running events begin at 6 p.m. with the 4x100m relays. The women's hammer throw starts at 1 p.m. At 5:30 p.m. Rice track and field announces its team awards.
This will be the last home track and field meet for Rice for the 2012 outdoor season. Teams competing include HBU, Prairie View A&M, Sam Houston State, Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Texas A&M Kingsville, Lamar University, Texas Southern, Houston, Dallas Baptist, Incarnate Word, and Houston Community College.
While Houstonians identified J.Fred Duckett as the voice of Rice Athletics, as well as that of the Houston Astros for many years, a far greater segment of the country knew him as one of the premiere public address announcers in track and field.
A life-long fan of the sport who threw the discus for Rice in the mid 1950's, Duckett combined an encyclopedic memory of the sport with an affinity of knowing just what nugget to throw out to the fans in the stands while a race was unfolding before them. He was able to narrate multiple events that unfolded almost instantaneously before him, often armed with little more than a pair of binoculars, a heat sheet, and his trusty microphone.
Those who came to South Main to compete at Rice took note of his talents, and soon Duckett was being asked to share those gifts at meets throughout the country. Fans at Southewest Conferece, WAC, and Conference USA Championships, as well as fans at the Kansas and Texas Relays were regularly treated to Duckett's talents. No track meet was too small for Duckett's enthusiastic descriptions. He was a fixture at countless high school and age group meets, and many of those moments he called found there way into later descriptions when any of those youthful runners found themselves competing in college. His record keeping was so renowned, he became one-man archive for many local high school coaches.
Those who were privileged enough to have had him describe a race will never forget him. Those who found an extra burst of energy when they heard him announce their name, owe him a debt of thanks. But J. Fred would have just shrugged off such compliments. He did it all, for the love of the sport.
Head men's track and field coach comments below on the late J.Fred Duckett: