Bob Davis shares stories from hall-of-fame sports broadcasting career
Jeff Bollig knew that Bob Davis had a story to tell.
Heck, for nearly five decades, that's all Davis did as a hall-of-fame sports broadcaster, first in Hays, then as the voice of the Kansas Jayhawks and later with the Kansas City Royals.
And what better way to present the consummate story-teller than in a book?
"I grew up in Hays listening to him," said Bollig, who years later went to work in the Kansas sports information office and got to know Davis personally. "I told Bob way back, even before he retired, that I felt he should do a book on Kansas sports, like great coaches of Kansas, something like that."
But the timing wasn't right, with Davis' work obligations with KU, the Royals and also as sports director at KMBZ radio in Kansas City.
"He didn't want to do one while he was working because there was work to be done and the story would be incomplete," Bollig said. "He wasn't really big on doing a book about himself. He's a very humble person.
"I said, 'Do a book just to put memories down for people … kind of the funnier inside stuff.' "
Davis, who retired from the KU booth in 2016, finally relented late last year and the result of the collaboration was "The Dream is Real (My Life on the Airwaves)," which now is available online at Amazon.com as well as at numerous Dillons stores statewide, including the Salina store on Cloud Street.
Davis, 76, still lives in Lawrence after retiring at the end of the 2015-16 KU basketball season. He admitted that if it weren't for co-author Bollig, the book may never have happened.
"He just got me cornered and jumped on me and everything," Davis said, chuckling. "How it's in the stores and all that stuff."
It was Bollig who came up with the format for the 14-chapter, 200-page book, which chronicles Davis' introduction to sports as the son of a sports editor at the Independence Reporter — as a 5-year-old he saw a young Mickey Mantle long before he became a New York Yankees hall-of-famer — his decision to leave law school to pursue a broadcasting career and then the various stages of that 48-year career behind the microphone.
"It's the things that happened, the national championships I covered and a lot of fun times and fun trips," Davis said.
Each chapter has a theme, with most including a sidebar, and all of them wrapping up with thoughts from "Friends of Bob," who shared their stories about Davis.
"I think it's autobiographical in that it goes chronologically through his life, but that's more just a platform for the anecdotes," Bollig said.
Davis talks about his 16 years in Hays, covering Hays High School, Thomas More Prep and Fort Hays State, as well as the next 32 years with KU. There are numerous stories sprinkled in about the coaches with whom he worked — hall-of-fame Jayhawk basketball coaches Larry Brown, Roy Williams and Bill Self, football coaches Glen Mason and Mark Mangino and several Royals managers — plus his numerous broadcast partners.
"I think Bob is such a great story-teller and that's No. 1," said Bollig, and echoed throughout the book by the "Friends of Bob," who couldn't wait to hear Davis spin behind-the-scene yarns or share his latest joke. "That's what I wanted to get across, and also his great sense of humor.
"He's so funny."
Davis, who sent out 50 resumes before landing his first job as an afternoon disc jockey at KAYS in Hays, summarized his career thusly: "I was in the right place at the right time, and I got to work with a lot of people that became very good friends."
He was widely recognized for his work as a 14-time winner of the Kansas Sportscaster of the Year award, among others. He also is a member of the Fort Hays State University Hall of Fame, the Kansas Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame and the Topeka West High School Hall of Fame.
Asked, nearly five years into retirement, if he misses it all, he paused.
"I don't miss coming back from Lubbock, Texas, at 5 in the morning," he said. "But I enjoyed every bit of it.
"I did it for about as long as I could, and I was fortunate to get to do it in three different places and follow some really good guys."