Green, Hacker and Kropf share announcers booth
Three Mexico coaching legends, one booth and Friday night football – it just doesn't get better than that, Bulldog fans.
For more decades than one can count, Don "Bucky" Green has been the public address announcer for Friday night home football games at Hawthorne Heights. And by his side, Barry Hacker has monitored the scoreboard, while Jim Kropf has been the keeper of the 25-second clock. The Ledger recently had the opportunity to interview these three coaches, and find out what keeps them coming back for every game, and what really goes on in the announcers booth when the microphone's not on.
As the Bulldog PA announcer, Green's job is to announce what's happening on the field. "In a sense, I'm telling people what they are already seeing – who made the tackle; who carried the ball down the distance," Coach Green explained, with his signature chuckle.
Green started announcing MHS football games in either 1981 or 1982 – he wasn't quite sure, but it was during the time when the old announcers booth was on the other side of the field, he said.
Known for sticking only to the facts of the game, Green said he couldn't do his job without his cohorts, Hacker and Kropf. "I get a lot of help from these guys," Green said. "If you hear me say immediately that somebody scored a touchdown, that's because Barry tells me that; because he keeps track of the yards. Both these guys help me out quite a bit with the numbers, especially during the very first quarter."
Hacker joined the announcers crew in either 1994 or 1995. Before that, the St. Louis native taught on both the junior high and high school levels for 21 1/2 years, and served as the MHS assistant principal for almost two. During those years, he also coached junior high basketball, cross country, high school track and baseball, and saw several state championships on the high school level in both baseball and track.
His task during Friday night games is to keep the clock running – making sure it starts and stops at the right times. He also keeps track of the "first in ten," "second in five," "third and four," what yardline the players are on, and the score. All three coaches agree, Hacker has the most important role among the trio.
Before Hacker started working with the group, Kropf said, "multiple people were doing his job, and it made our job more difficult. Not because they (the people filling in) weren't doing a good job, but because the stability of us three being here, is quite unique. We really couldn't do this job, as well as we do, without each other."
Kropf is the rookie of the Friday night announcers team, joining sometime in 1984 or 1985. His job is mainly to keep an eye on the officials and make sure the plays are initiated within the 25 seconds allowed. He also helps Green spot ball carriers and defensive tackles.
During his 31-year tenure with the Mexico School District, Kropf taught eighth grade earth science, sixth grade science and coached junior high football, basketball and track (at both the junior high and high schools). He finished his career in 1999, coaching junior high cross country.
Asked what attracts him to the games, Kropf said, "it gives me a chance to come out and still support the Bulldogs, because I love football, as do all of us. It also keeps me in contact with who the athletes are, and the fans."
Green added, "I'm not the rah-rah kind of person. When I go to games, I just like to watch. But when I'm up here with these guys, it's a good time. It's like our private domain to comment on the games, the players, and whatever else we can think of. There's nothing we won't critique."
Green said there are some PA announcers who talk a lot and rouse the crowds, but not him. "We don't do birthdays or anniversaries. We just do the announcements that need to be made. It's about football, and that's what we are about. It's the cheerleaders’ job to arouse the crowd, not mine," he said.
Their combination of years together nearly makes a century, and in that time, they've seen the Bulldogs rise and fall. But the heartbreaker, they all agree, was the 1994 season, when the Bulldogs lost to Rock Bridge and missed their chance at the final eight. "That year was arguably, the best Mexico has ever had," Green said.
Green currently serves as the head track coach for MHS girls. However, his career as a coach with the Mexico School District has seen multiple successes in track and field, cross country, and football – which he served as the defense coordinator. When asked what he likes most about being the PA, he laughed and said, "definitely, the $20 a game."
So tonight when you're sitting in the bleachers, watching the Bulldogs – hopefully walk over the Pirates – tip your hat to the guys in the announcers booth, for their dedication to the team and to the game.