At a recent coffee klatch, the subject of sports commentators came up. With the recent passing of John Madden, it seems colorful sports commentators have all but vanished. In the past, one looked forward to hearing Bill Stern, Curt Gowdy, Howard Cosell or Don Meredith describe sporting events.
Most of today’s announcers are bland analysts of the games. Locally, two of the most prominent sports commentators were the late Link Piazzo and the still active Dan Gustin. As I knew Link the best, most of this article will be about him.
For those who are not familiar with the name, Link Piazzo, he is the individual whose smiling visage adorned one of the most famous logos in the history of The Biggest Little City. That logo promoted the sporting goods store that he and his brother Chet opened in 1938. It was called The Sportsman and during its many decades of existence it was regarded as one of the most completely stocked sporting goods stores in the West, if not in the whole country.
Link himself was the outgoing and articulate of the two brothers and that talent led him into broadcasting and he was the “Voice of the Wolf Pack” for several decades. He was so talented in radio broadcasting that at one time he was called to the San Francisco Bay Area to audition for a network job.
Eschewing relocating and changing his professional career, he returned to Reno and continued in his former lofty position as one of the top “movers and shakers” in post- World War II Reno. Involved in all manner of civic activities, he was also prominent on the social scene as he headed up the many business and civic organizations that existed in Reno in the latter half of the twentieth century.
An avid golfer and trap and skeet shooter, he spent many hours outdoors and traveled extensively around the world to various sporting venues. One of his favorite photos is a shot of him teeing off at the venerable St. Andrews Golf Course. A lasting legacy for Link is the current Hidden Valley Golf Course and Country Club located in the eastern part of the Truckee Meadows. He and three other partners bought what had been a cattle ranch and converted it into Reno’s first country club and set up exclusive housing around the picturesque course.
Several years ago, one of the reasons that former Reno Mayor Bob Cashell named February 15th in Link’s honor was the fact that Link received the annual “Community Hero” award on that day from Reno’s Good Old Days Club. Emcee of the event was the previous year’s “Hero” winner, former Reno TV personality Tad Dunbar and the City of Reno Proclamation was presented to Link by former Reno City Councilman Dan Gustin, who served as the “Voice of the Pack” for more than thirty years.