MILWAUKEE -- When most fans of New England pro teams think of Gil Santos, they immediately associate him as the longtime voice of the New England Patriots.
But once upon a time, many years ago, Santos -- who passed away Thursday on his 80th birthday -- was the television voice of the Boston Celtics. His broadcast partner was the legendary Bob Cousy through most of the 1980s.
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"Gil was the consummate professional," Cousy told NBC Sports Boston. "I worked with a lot of play-by-play men who went on to National success, but Gil, to me, was by far the most prepared. He did it by the book, not a lot of editorializing. I appreciated that he often let the pictures do the talking . . . that's something he really believed in."
Cousy added: "I thought he had the best voice of all the play-by-play men. I had great respect for him as a play-by-play man because I always knew he was well prepared. I also enjoyed his company. He was a great dinner companion because he was a great story teller . . . and he loved good food. Gil would always handle the dinner arrangements and to me that was another big plus. He was the best at finding the best restaurants."
Santos' impact went beyond the airwaves.
He was a man who changed lives, something the current TV voice of the Boston Celtics can attest to.
Mike Gorman recalls his first encounter with Santos, in 1975.
"I was just out of the Navy and I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life," Gorman told NBC Sports Boston. "At one point when I was getting out of the Navy, I decided I wanted to be a sportscaster but I had no credentials for it and no experience in it. That was fortunate for me because ignorance was bliss."
After sending out resumes, Gorman realized his dream job wasn't going to come about that route.
"So I walked up to WBZ to speak to Gil Santos," Gorman said. "Gil was nice enough to come out and see who I was."
The two talked, shared a couple Cokes, played a softball game and before you know it, Santos was on the phone with a friend of a radio station in New Bedford, Mass., which would soon become Gorman's first on-air job.
And that was the catalyst for what has been a Hall of Fame-worthy career for Gorman, whose broadcasting career has been influenced by many.
But the impact of Santos on his career, is immeasurable.
Gorman said he would probably be a teacher and a would-be basketball coach right now if it wasn't for Santos.
"I was pretty much at the end of the line trying to get into broadcasting," Gorman said. "If Gil had been discouraging or said you need to go to broadcasting school or something like that, I would have said, ‘Thanks' and gone back to being a teacher, which is what I was trained to be in college."
Gorman added: "He opened the door for me. If he doesn't open the door for me, I'm 90 percent sure I would be in some other business not doing what I'm doing now."