Today, March 30th, is Irv Brown Day. Afterall, today is Irv’s birthday; this one would have been No. 86.
Irv Brown passed away on February 3, 2019. But you know what? His memory is alive and well, the mark he made indelible.
If there are six degrees of separation between anyone and Kevin Bacon, then there are probably only four between anyone and Irv Brown. If you live in Denver Colorado, it’s likely less. As great as Irv was at officiating, broadcasting, business – well, you name it, really – he was best at connecting people. He genuinely cared about helping others achieve what they wanted to achieve.
In fact, there’s a really good chance you wouldn’t be reading this if it weren’t for the great Irv Brown.
There are a lot of folks responsible for life and times of Mile High Sports – but Irv Brown is high atop the list. Way back in the day, long before Mile High Sports Magazine ever rolled off the press for the first time, Irv Brown happily served on the first-and-only “Mile High Sports Advisory Board.”
The idea was pretty simple: No real work required. Let Mile High Sports drop your name on occasion. Appear in the magazine’s staff bar. And feel free to offer advice if and when you like. But no meetings and, most importantly, no obligation.
“That’s it?” I recall Irv asking upon being invited to serve on the Board.
He was in, but Irv was never about doing the minimum. Irv was a maximum kind of guy, bigger than life in every way imaginable. It’s hard to pinpoint a single way in which Irv helped Mile High Sports succeed, but the doors that opened when the name “Irv Brown” was mentioned were both numerous and helpful. And when Irv would “give ‘em a call,” well, whatever came next was a done deal.
“I told your dad I thought you guys were crazy,” Irv told me on more than one occasion, thinking back to the infancy of Mile High Sports Magazine. “‘You’re nuts!’ I told him. But you and James (Merilatt) made it work.”
Irv might have thought Mile High Sports Magazine was doomed from the get go, but behind the scenes, that wasn’t what he was telling people. The number of times I heard, “Irv said…” or “I heard about you guys from Irv Brown…” are too many to count. Whether he thought the idea would work or not didn’t matter – he rooted for us regardless. And he helped, probably in more ways than I’m even aware almost 20 years later.
Mile High Sports Radio got a big shot in the arm, too, when Irv, and longtime partner Joe Williams, joined the lineup in 2011. Before “Irv and Joe” we were just a spot on the dial. With them we were suddenly legitimized.
You knew Irv, so you then knew us. You know the name. He probably knew you. And he remembered your name. And your high school. And the sport you played or the business you ran.
But Mile High Sports is far from unique; Irv helped everybody.
Look around the local sports scene. If you’re watching or listening or reading, chances are, Irv offered a helping hand to that sports personality or outlet. Or, he worked with or for them. There’s even a project in the works – right now – that will help future generations of sports enthusiasts to make it the world of sports business. That’s the goal of the Irv Brown Champions Center at Arvada High School.
Today, as you’re clicking around the dial, everyone will be talking about Irv at some point. Even rival stations can put aside the rivalry to celebrate Irv Brown Day. After all, without Irv, there would be no such thing as “rival stations.” Back in the day, when he practically invented “sports talk” he showed us how great sports talk radio could be. Now, Denver is home to more professional sports talk stations than professional sports teams.
A little more than two years after his death, I often find myself wondering what Irv might say about some of the hot topics of the day.
Drew Lock? “Let him sling it. See what he can do.”
Aaron Gordon? “Big. Good lookin’ kid.”
The Pandemic? “Rub some dirt on it and get back out there.”
No matter what he would have said, we would have listened.