Fond memories of Randy Tieman
“If you have passion and you work hard, you can be good at just about anything.”
Randy Tieman said those words to me in the winter of 2011. I was at his Williamstown area property to interview him about his career as a sportscaster. He walked me through his entire life – growing up in Exeter, ON, his childhood dreams of being a professional golfer, driving across much of the country in his 1967 Chevy van and knocking on the doors of radio stations everywhere, looking for a job, and then, ultimately, finding work in Montreal in the early 1980s.
“I jumped at it,” he told me. Evidently, it was his dream job. He was doing afternoon sportscasts and then covering the Expos games in the evening. He also had opportunities to cover the Montreal Canadiens and the Alouettes. Baseball, however, was his big love and he told me that the day the Expos left Montreal in 2004 was one of the saddest days of his life.
He was a jovial guy with a booming radio baritone voice and a bushy mustache that has been his trademark for more than four decades. He covered about a dozen Grey Cups and always had a strong sense of nostalgia for the way sports journalism used to be.
“When I covered the Ottawa Rough Riders, some of the players would actually call to invite you over to Bill’s [a local pub] for drinks,” he says. “There was sort of an unwritten rule that you didn’t have a tape recorder but that would never happen nowadays.”
He had sympathy for professional athletes who, thanks to our media-saturated culture, can’t cut loose and relax anymore. “If they do that today, it will be on YouTube in a matter of seconds,” he says.
He had also been a warrior as he had survived cancer and meningitis, the latter of which put him in a coma for about a week. He’d had his spleen removed, underwent six months of chemotherapy, and, eventually, quintuple bypass surgery.
On Friday, Nov. 16, Mr. Tieman passed away at the age of 64. It sent shockwaves throughout Montreal’s sports community and the Montreal Canadiens, his favourite NHL team, paid tribute to him on Monday, Nov. 19, before their game against the Washington Capitals.
Well I am not a Canadiens fan or a Montreal resident, but I will always remember the kindness Mr. Tieman showed my girl, Kelsey-Fay, when she was a typical nine-year-old who loved horses. Mr. Tieman invited us to his property so she could see and even pet the six horses his family kept there. It was a pretty cold day too but Mr. Tieman didn’t mind bundling up so he could give a little girl a bit of happiness.