Al McCoy impacted sightless Suns fans from start of fanhood to final call

May 12, 2023, 6:00 PM | Updated: 6:00 pm

PHOENIX — Legendary broadcaster Al McCoy and fans with limited vision forged a special bond during his 51 years as voice of the Phoenix Suns, right down to his final sign-off.

Max Ashton, a longtime fan who is blind, was taken off guard when McCoy, a class act until the end, acknowledged that connection.

“During that final game, I made sure to listen all the way to the end just because I wanted to hear what he would say at the end, and it was really, really touching,” Ashton told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Friday, a day after the Suns’ season-ending blowout loss to the Denver Nuggets.

McCoy was doling out his final round of thanks before handing off Thursday night’s radio broadcast to the postgame show when he singled out what he called “a special group of people.”

“Through the years, I’ve become friends with so many sightless people, and you can’t understand what radio and sports radio broadcasting means to these folks,” the Hall of Fame broadcaster said.

“And I’ve gotten to know so many sightless people that depend on our radio broadcasts, and I’ve known people are in hospitals and then veterans hospitals and shut-ins, and I just want to thank all of those folks that depend on radio for letting me be a part of their lives.”

Ashton said he was surprised to hear that message and found it enlightening.

“That was a really cool shoutout, because, frankly, even as someone who listens to radio sports broadcasts all the time and who does … have a lot of meaning with it, it still was surprising because it’s not something I really think about regularly,” he said.

“Him actually saying ‘I’m glad I can be the voice of the Suns to help you know what’s going on,’ it made me think that really is what’s going on. It’s amazing that he is aware of that.”

In fact, Ashton is one of the sightless people who McCoy connected with directly over the years.

“I always listened to the radio broadcast because it was easier for me to follow the games,” he said. “That’s especially true for basketball because the play-by-play on the radio is a lot more descriptive.”

When he was a boy, Ashton went to a game with his dad and had floor seats for the only time in his life. McCoy took notice of the young fan with his white cane and radio earbuds.

“At the next commercial he introduced himself, said ‘hi’ and he said ‘thanks for listening and … thanks for being a fan,’ and as a 10- or 11-year old sports fan, that was so cool,” Ashton recalled.

It was extra cool for Ashton, who has the same reverence for broadcasters as he does for athletes.

“So meeting him was … I might as well have been meeting Steve Nash,” he said.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Taylor Kinnerup contributed to this report.

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