John McAdams, who for 24 years served as the public address at the Palestra, passed away in his sleep on Wednesday night at his home in Upper Darby, Pa. He was 64 years old.
John's wife of 42 years, Nancy, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that her husband, a Philadelphia native, was "a sports-aholic." His resume certainly proved that to be the case.
McAdams was a mainstay on the sidelines of "college basketball's most historic gym" -- a phrase he coined in 1986 -- since 1981. In addition to his duties as public address announcer at the Palestra, he also served as the official scorer for the Philadelphia Phillies, press box announcer for the Philadelphia Eagles and public address announcer for the Wilmington Blue Rocks, a single-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox in Delaware.
McAdams also worked for the Philadelphia Phillies' double-A affiliate team of the same nickname in Reading, Pa. It was there that he worked his final game, serving as the official scorer at Reading's game against the New Britain Rock Cats.
Sports figures from across the Philadelphia area paid tribute to McAdams' work on Thursday.
Penn men's basketball coach Fran Dunphy called McAdams "such a good human being, and to lose him is difficult."
"He just was always there," Dunphy said. "So it's going to be very difficult to walk into the Palestra on a given night and not have him be behind the mic."
Dunphy noted that McAdams also worked at a wide range of Penn athletic events, from baseball and lacrosse to junior varsity basketball and alumni reunion games.
"He left a great legacy in this business in this area as a guy who was completely selfless and just cared about all the kids he talked to, all the kids whose names he called out in any given game," Dunphy said. "He was a true Philadelphian... just a one of a kind guy."
Among Penn's less celebrated sports venues, McAdams spent a lot of time at Murphy Field. He was the public address announcer not only for Penn baseball but also for the annual Carpenter Cup for Philadelphia-area high school teams.
Former Quakers coach Bob Seddon, who retired in April after 37 years in the home dugout, said that he "took it pretty hard. I had just spoke to John Wednesday afternoon at 4 o'clock, just prior to his going to Reading."
"I think you'd best describe [McAdams] as a person who had a lot of friends in his years," Seddon said. "He was a very genuine person, he said it as it was."
Seddon expressed his wishes that future generations of Palestra fans know McAdams' name and importance.
"I would definitely try to keep his name alive, and point out that we had a name here that was very professional at what he did," Seddon said. "He was a legend here in [the Palestra], and he made people know the minute they walked in that this was the most historic gym in the United States."
It is that uniqueness, and the experiences that the 70-year-old Seddon shared with McAdams, that the longtime coach will miss the most.
"Everybody says that we're all expendable, but not everybody is totally expendable -- there's certain things that are missed with certain people when they leave a job or pass on," Seddon said. "There's a certain touch that will be gone. It'll be a new man [at the mic], and he'll do a good job and all that -- he'll have his own thing, but it will take years to build."
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