Bob Ottone’s voice was the soundtrack of minor league baseball on Long Island. The Islip native, a former radio disc jockey and teacher, spent his retirement as the Long Island Ducks’ public address announcer at Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip.
Ottone, 72, who lived in East Islip and was nicknamed “Bullet Bob” because of his rapid-fire delivery, rarely missed a game. His son, Robert, said he took immense pride in his ability to keep his voice fit summer after summer.
“He wanted to make sure he could still bring it, and he could,” said Robert, 34, of East Islip. “He definitely brought it.”
Bob Ottone died of cardiac arrest Sunday at South Side Hospital in Bay Shore, his family said.
“Bob Ottone was an integral part of our organization as the ballpark voice of the Ducks for so many wonderful years,” said Ducks Founder/CEO Frank Boulton in a statement on the team’s website. “He will be fondly remembered and greatly missed.”
Ducks president and general manager Michael Pfaff agreed.
“Bob loved the Ducks and the Ducks loved Bob,” Pfaff said. “I really enjoyed having Bob on our promo staff because he was someone, with all his experience and all his knowledge, who really brought a sense of professionalism to our control room. He had a great sense of humor and was someone that everyone enjoyed being around. He was one of those people that made it fun to come to the ballpark.”
Robert Ottone said his dad, a longtime Yankees season ticket holder, idolized Yankees radio voice Mel Allen and field announcer Bob Sheppard. The elder Ottone began working with the Ducks as a backup public address announcer in 2000, the team’s inaugural season. He took over as the full-time position in 2005.
“You could have walked into [Bethpage Ballpark] with your eyes closed and known you were at a Ducks game just because you heard Bob’s voice,” Pfaff said “That voice became synonymous with the Ducks experience … He was the best at what he did.”
Born on July 28, 1946, in Dobbs Ferry, Ottone moved to Long Island with his family and graduated from Islip High School. He earned a degree in television and radio from Syracuse University in 1968 and then went to work as a radio disc jockey for WGLI in Babylon and WGBB in Freeport.
In the mid-1970s, Ottone earned his master’s degree in education at C.W. Post and began working at Brentwood High School in 1980, where taught radio classes and ran a high school radio program.
“It allowed him to be in both realms — education and teaching future generations of on-air talent and allowed him to maintain a living,” Robert said. “When you’re in radio, you have to move around a lot and that’s not something he really wanted to do because he had a family … Being in Brentwood for so many years and running the radio program was a natural fit.”
Ottone’s favorite holiday was Halloween, a day he looked forward to all year.
“We used to do a big haunted house on our front lawn,” Robert said. “A lot of years, we would do it for charity. We would raise money for a lot of different charities. His favorite was St. Jude’s Children Hospital.”
Ottone is survived by his wife of 46-years Joanne, sons Robert and Ed, 50, of East Islip, daughter Jaimie Lane, 43, and son-in-law Eric, 47 of Selden, grandchildren Braxton and Azlynn, and brother Ron, 68, of East Moriches.
A wake will be held Feb. 20 and 21 from 2-4:30 p.m. and 7-9:30 p.m. at the Frederick J. Chapey and Sons Funeral Home in East Islip. Funeral services will be at 11:30 a.m. Friday at Chapey, followed by entombment at Pinelawn Memorial Park in Farmingdale.