April 23, 2008
April 23, 2008
Thursday's track and field event, The Rice Twilight, will be formally renamed in honor of the man who served as the superconductor at Rice sporting events as public address announcer for over 50 years.
The J. Fred Duckett/Rice Twilight meet will feature Rice's men's and women's teams as well as squads from Texas A&M, UT Arlington, Stephen F. Austin, Tulane, Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Houston Baptist and many others.
The meet is highlighted with two outstanding Rice pole vault competitions. Rice's Rachel Greff and Jason Colwick have been ranked number one in the nation in the pole vault this year and are slated to compete on Thursday.
Also, free drinks and pizza will be provided to all Rice students compliments of the Rice track and field teams prior to the start of competition.
J. Fred Duckett was the public address voice of Rice athletics for football, basketball, and track and field events prior to his passing on June 25, 2007. His last event remarkably was the 2007 Conference USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships hosted by Rice and highlighted by the Rice women's team winning it's first-ever C-USA outdoor title.
His voice became synonymous with Rice football, basketball and track events for most of his life and his familiar announcement of "It's a beautiful day for outdoor football" signaled that kickoff was near for another football game at Rice Stadium.
His booming voice also introduced major league baseball players for 23 years as the PA announcer for the Houston Astros, and his most famous contribution to the Houston sporting fabric may well have been his energetic introductions of outfielder Jose Cruz during his long career with the club.
Nationally, Duckett was perhaps best known for his work in track and field, where he artfully wove countless facts about competitors into a narration that always kept fans appraised of the action. He worked track meets at every level of competition, from local high school meets to college meets at Rice as well as the Texas Relays. He also announced the Houston Marathon and in 1984 was a member of the press operations staff at the Los Angeles Olympic Games.
Duckett competed in both track and football at Rice prior to his graduation in 1955. He did not earn a letter as an undergraduate, but the R Association presented him with its Honorary R Person award in 1991 for his countless hours of service to his school. He served on the association's board of directors up until the time of his death.
As a Rice undergraduate, he served as sports editor of both the student newspaper, The Thresher, and the yearbook, The Campanile, while also assisting SID Bill Whitmore as a student aide. A Fulbright Scholar, Duckkett spent a year studying in the Netherlands.
In 1991, Duckett was inducted into the National Junior College Athletic Association Trackand Field Hall of Fame for his contributions to the sport.
Away from athletics, Duckett and his wife Baudine, who passed away in January, provided a home away from home for countless Rice students as part of the Host Family Program for Foreign Graduate Students. They were honored by the Mayor of Houston in 1997, along with Rice University, for their work in this program.