MILWAUKEE (WITI) — Most of us will admit to having some sort of early influence in our careers, for a bevy of notable local sports personalities, that influence was one man: Gregg Hoffmann.
Listen to the radio, go to an Admirals game, check out the Bucks on TV, take in a race and you may very well be seeing the influence of Gregg Hoffmann, the father of sports journalism at UW-Milwaukee.
“He was inspirational because he was doing what he wanted to do. He was working in the field that we wanted to and he wasn’t just an academic. I mean, he was good in the classroom and good in front of us, but he wasn’t one of these patches on the sleeve academics to tell you how it was, in theory,” FSN Wisconsin Host Jeff Grayson said.
Hoffmann was a working journalist when he started teaching as well in the late 1980s. Drew Olson, Jon Greenberg, Jeff Grayson and Jim Tretow were among his first students.
“I remember registering for the class and walking in the first day and not knowing anyone and by just sheer chance, sitting next to Drew Olson, who at that time was Andy Olson, and our first assignment was to interview each other and that’s how he and I met,” Tretow said.
Greenberg would become the Director of Media Relations for the Brewers, while Olson would become a beat writer, covering the team and at one point, the president of the Baseball Writers of America Association, Tretow, would become the media relations director at the Milwaukee Mile, before spinning off into local and national motorsports on-air work. Grayson would become the guy that bookends Bucks and Brewers telecasts.
“It’s been a pretty good factory that came out of there,” Tretow said.
A factory that includes a fairly successful comedian who grew up in Wisconsin: Frank Caliendo.
“We’re glad that Caliendo came through the program too, and he can speak too, because he’s a bigger star than all of us,” Grayson said.
“I just kind of learned that whole ‘you better have your facts straight. You better tell the story the right way.’ And the time I took, probably way too much time, if he knew how much time I took on one story, Mr. Hoffmann would be like ‘what are you thinking? Deadline was three hours ago. Get that story done.’ But I really enjoyed it,” Milwaukee Admirals President Jon Greenberg said.
“A lot has changed here on the UWM campus since the late 1980s, but what Hoffman taught in the basement at Merrill Hall and Johnson Hall, is still being used by those who were in his classes.
Hoffmann will be in the press box at Miller Park this Brewers season — his 40th year of covering baseball. Among the places his work appears are the Brewers Gameday Magazine and MidwestDiamondReport.com.