Better known by his street name, Arnold Dean, 78, the smooth-talking WTIC-AM (1080) radio sportscaster and sports director emeritus whose mellifluous tones can make even the worst ballgame sound good, was his usual kind, considerate, over-the-top mannerly guy as friends, family - including wife Helen - and fans congratulated him on six decades of radio work that ranged from his lesser-known days as a cooking-show host to his well-known signature call-in show "Sports Talk."
"I'd do it as long as the station wants me," said Dean, who had planned to be a pilot until the Air Force found he had a vertigo problem. "I may have aged, but I'm lucky that my voice didn't."
Among those celebrating his on-air longevity were a slew of high school and college athletic types, including former Central Connecticut State University men's basketball coach Bill Detrick, who was no slouch himself when it came to local-celebrity status. But hey, the party was for Dean.
"He treated Central well when he broadcast our games way back when," said Detrick, who now coaches golf at Trinity College. "He helped us make our presence known by broadcasting our games and did it well."
Those at the event couldn't help but linger at a roomful of displays tracking Dean's history through the years, old newspaper clippings in particular that reflected the times and the sports that made the news during each decade.
"Remember the Whalers? Boy, do I wish they were still here," said Marilyn Michaels, a self-described "just a fan" of Dean's as she looked at pictures of Gordie Howe in the display featuring Hartford's former NHL team. "I still love 'Sports Talk,' and when Dean is filling in . . . well, you just know it is him. You might not know what he looks like, but you recognize him right away when he talks."
Besides a host of co-workers, including Joe "D" D'Ambrosio, who, with WVIT, Channel 30, sports anchor Kevin Nathan, now co-hosts the "Sports Talk" show, there was a contingent from the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, who lauded Dean for his mild-mannered and fair style of broadcasting and, better yet, for the strings he can pull when it comes to getting a good guest speaker for the organization's annual student athlete banquet.
"He's our guy when it comes to finding a speaker for the annual Scholar-Athlete dinner," said Bob Ford, a retired principal who now serves as the CIAC's corporate development director.
"He's our hook-up on celebrities," chimed in Tony Mosa, also a retired principal and retired assistant executive director of the CIAC. "We let him be the featured speaker one year, and now we let him introduce the guest speaker each year."