Jim Norman ’57 was just a kid from Perryville who loved to see Ernie Calverley ’46 shoot a basketball in Rodman Hall on what was then the Rhode Island State College campus. But he became the voice that generations of Rams fans turned to when they couldn’t make it to Kingston to watch the games.
For his 34 years behind the microphone as the voice of the Rams, Norman was inducted into the Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame in May. “When you’re honored by your peers, that’s special,” Norman said. “You don’t do it to be inducted into a hall of fame, but it’s kind of the crowning achievement to the whole process of my career.”
During his career, Norman called 1,286 consecutive football and men’s basketball games. Even now, 60 years after he called his first game as a student broadcaster, the names, accomplishments, and incredible games remain fresh in his memory.
The 77-year-old can tell you about the time in 1952 when Pat Abbruzzi ’55 rushed for 306 yards against New Hampshire. He’ll tell you about the time Tom Ehrhardt ’86 threw eight touchdown passes against Connecticut in 1985. He’ll tell you why he thinks Sly Williams was a better all-around player than Lamar Odom, and about the night Tom Garrick ’90 scored a school record 50 points.
His encyclopedic knowledge of Rams athletics comes not only from his time at the microphone, but also from his 22 years as URI’s sports information director. It was Norman’s job to compile all the statistics and record all the victories in the athletic program annals, put together media guides and make sure the press had everything it needed. And when the whistle blew, listeners around the state were treated to the games through the eyes of the man who has probably seen more URI athletic contests than anyone alive.