DETROIT – Fred McLeod, who worked as a sportscaster for decades in Detroit, has died. He was 67.
McLeod most recently was working as a play-by-play announcer for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He had been with the Cavaliers since 2006.
"It is with the most extreme sadness that the Cleveland Cavaliers share that Cavs and Fox Sports Ohio play-by-play announcer Fred McLeod died suddenly Monday evening," reads a statement from the Cavaliers. "The entire Cavaliers organization mourns the loss of their great friend and teammate."
McLeod had just returned to Detroit to cover the Lions preseason games this past month.
22 years as Pistons announcer
Before joining the Cavs, McLeod spent 22 seasons as the TV voice of the Detroit Pistons. He also served as the play-by-play voice of the Detroit Tigers for four seasons and the Detroit Lions for seven seasons.
McLeod hosted "Sports Final Edition" on WDIV. He became the Pistons play-by-play announcer in 1984 and held that position until 2006. His 22 years with the Pistons is the longest tenure of a TV-only announcer with the same NBA team, according to the American Entertainment International Speakers Bureau.
Here is McLeod signing off from "Sports Final Edition" in 2000:
Here's a look back at a June 19, 1994 episode of "Sports Final Edition" on WDIV with McLeod:
Start in Ohio
McLeod was a native of Strongsville, Ohio, but his family later moved to Pittsburgh, Pa. where he graduated from high school. He was a baseball pitcher at Point Park College (now Point Park University) in Pittsburgh.
His broadcasting career began in the 1970s in Missouri. He later moved back to Ohio where worked as a play-by-play announcer for the Cleveland Indians and Cavaliers. He arrived in Detroit in 1982 to work for WJBK and WDIV. He called Pistons games for PASS Sports in the 1980s and 90s.
His career eventually led him back to Ohio to join the Cavaliers as play-by-play announcer again.
Here is McLeod paying tribute to the late Mike Ilitch after the former Red Wings and Tigers owner died in 2017:
Friends, colleagues remember Fred
Heartfelt statements have been pouring out upon the news of McLeod's death:
I am just stunned by the passing of Fred McLeod. He’s been the voice of the Cavaliers, but he was long a member of the WDIV family. Talented, of course, but also funny, charming and so very kind. His marriage to Beth was a true love story. https://t.co/j2p9e0GDIJ— Devin Scillian (@DevinScillian) September 10, 2019
Another great broadcast voice is silenced. What a genuine man & friend. My first true friend in Detroit when I arrived. https://t.co/07jPUXKPkQ— Chuck Gaidica (@chuckgaidica) September 10, 2019
This is just heartbreaking. Fred was a great colleague and a consummate pro. Love to Beth and all the McLeods. May the angels welcome Fred to Heaven. https://t.co/cldjHKLF5R— Anne Thompson (@annenbcnews) September 10, 2019
I had seen Fred on Friday while getting a tour of RMFH. He was in awe of the intricacies that are going to set this venue apart from any other in the NBA. His passion & love for the game & this team were unmatched. He was always willing & wanting to help make our content the best— Cayleigh Griffin (@cayleighgriffin) September 10, 2019
Statement from the Detroit Lions:
“It is with true sadness that we mourn the passing of Fred McLeod, who we were fortunate to have return as the television voice of Lions preseason football earlier this year. Fred brought an energy to our broadcasts this summer and demonstrated the same passion for our team that he had for Detroit throughout his broadcasting career.
The entire Detroit Lions organization extends its heartfelt sympathies and condolences to his wife, Beth, his family and members of the TV broadcast community he helped mentor for more than four decades.”
Fred was a terrific broadcaster and a true gentleman. RIP https://t.co/PLl3g12Tcu— Gord Miller (@GMillerTSN) September 10, 2019