For Mick Hubert — and for Gator Nation — the time has come to say goodbye to “OH, MY!”
Hubert, the beloved and authoritative voice of the Florida Gators since 1989, is retiring after this weekend’s final baseball series of the regular season between Florida and South Carolina, the school announced Thursday morning.
Per its story, Hubert informed athletic director Scott Stricklin of the decision just this week — possibly on the heels of one last call of a walk-off baseball victory over Florida State — after 33 years on the mic and thousands of broadcasts heard by fans in and beyond the Gators fan base.
Hubert’s list of legendary calls begins for most — himself included — with his “DOERING’S GOT A TOUCHDOWN!” to stamp the Gators’ unlikely win over Kentucky behind freshman quarterback Danny Wuerffel’s toss to Chris Doering in 1993.
But Hubert’s booming intonations made many a signature phrase — from his awed “OH, MY!” for dazzling plays of many kinds to his memorable diagnoses of open receivers “In quarantine!” and his “Book it!” call for made threes on the court — comfort food for the ears and part of indelible pictures painted through audio over three full decades as the voice of a superpower coming into its own in college athletics.
And as Florida became the first school in more than a half-century to win national titles in all of football, men’s basketball, and baseball, Hubert was behind the mic, having the sort of career that few in his field would even dream of achieving — and loving it as thoroughly as one could.
“I was not doing brain surgery,’’ he said. “I was in the toy department of life calling games. But I’m going to do it to the best of my ability that God gave me. I also liked the preparation Monday through Friday. By the time Saturday came, I was kind of like a fan ready for the game.”
For that linked piece on his 30th anniversary with Florida from 2019, Hubert also told Florida staff writer Scott Carter he wasn’t thinking of retirement, saying, “I don’t feel old. I feel like I can still do this for a long time, as long as I can walk and talk.”
Just three years later — after three seasons abbreviated and marred by and mired in a pandemic that has helped produce a societal trend known as the Great Resignation, and marked for many months by restrictions on attendance and contact with players which presumably sapped some of the joy out of both calling Gators games and preparing for them — Hubert is choosing to walk away, with his Gainesville home recently sold and his wife, Judi, into her second year of retirement from a decades-long teaching career.
And while that sounds as if it has come as a gradual surprise...
“Five years ago, I’d probably told you I was going to do it until I was at least 80,’’ Hubert said. “That was five years ago. A couple of years ago, I started changing. I had a change of heart. Only God can change a person’s heart. I’m just being obedient right now.”
...it also comes with Hubert justifiably believing he is going with his skills undiminished — and with both full recognition of what he has been able to do and what he gave up to do it.
“No one is invincible. You can be replaced at any moment, and I understand that,” Hubert said. “But like I [told Stricklin], I think by doing it now that I’m going out at what I consider the top of my game. It’s just time. It’s just time for me to go. I can still do it, but my wife has sacrificed her whole career. We missed so many get-togethers and parties and meetings.”
Preparing to move reminded Hubert of how much he had missed at home as he and Judi cleared out photos and looked through old scrapbooks. There were so many photos of Judi back in their native Illinois with family and friends. He was always out of the picture, off at the latest football, basketball or baseball game.
“I wanted to cry,’’ he said. “Nothing was more important than the Gators. That’s what this business requires.”
For Mick Hubert, the opportunity to be the voice of the Gators became a calling, one that he answered by becoming The Voice of the Gators, capital letters and definite article fully deserved.
And the space at the microphone he will leave behind is likely to prove impossible to fill: No one will be able to imitate Mick, and no one should try. The next voice cannot be The Voice.
For all those reasons, though, he more than earned the ability to finish his career on his own terms — and he is, predictably, doing so with a few last calls of regular-season baseball games which are likely to be most remarkable for being his last remarks as Florida’s announcer.
I will be tuning in to at least the one on Saturday. I hope you will, too.
There will be no better way to thank Mick Hubert than to listen to him one last time.