HERSHEY, Pa. – Making selections to the Hershey Bears Hall of Fame is no enviable task. Established prior to the 2012-13 season, the organization’s 75th anniversary, the Bears have a lengthy list of players worthy of the honor across their team history. These selections mostly feature players and coaches who have delivered big moments to the organization. Still, every so often, the Bears honor a person whose service goes beyond the ice but has a lasting impact on the team over the years. No person embodies this more than Gregg Mace, who covered the Bears for 40 years with local ABC27 News. Mace’s contributions to the Bears go beyond simply covering the team, but going above and beyond to get them on television and help grow the game in Pennsylvania.
Prior to the rise of social media and a more “on demand” access to media for the Bears, Mace was the go-to source to see highlights for games after the final horn. He was instrumental in getting the team more television coverage, joining former play-by-play commentator John Walton as a dynamic duo with insights and analysis. Televised games extended into the postseason, memorably during a stretch where the Bears went to the Calder Cup Finals four times over a span of five years, collecting championships in three of those years. Gregg brought highlights and a live reaction almost instantly, with one such broadcast at the Giant Center after the Bears defeated the Portland Pirates in Game 7 in overtime during the 2006 Eastern Conference Finals. He often mused on air about the chicken wire that preceded glass around the boards and insisted that babies love the atmosphere of a hockey game.
Our Game 7 vs Portland on this day in 2006 is one of the best games in franchise history.
We go 🔙to the archives as the late @greggmace recaps this classic game perfectly. pic.twitter.com/h8x51pXo1d
— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) May 30, 2020
Gregg had a pulse on sports in South-Central Pennsylvania in a way that few others ever could. Although Philadelphia and Pittsburgh play host to professional sports teams in the Keystone State, there’s a wealth of minor, college, and high school sports that Gregg had the pulse on. His spotlight segment for Friday Night Football highlighted local high school games in the region along with an internship program for college students that gave them direct experience in the newsroom that has resulted in the next generation of sports reporters both in the state and around the country. That internship program includes this writer, who was fortunate to go “behind the scenes” around the Bears, as Gregg took his “kids” around their preferred sports over the course of the internship outside of just football. Local sports he covered included Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association State Championship games and major events he covered includes the Little League World Series, Penn State’s two national championships, and multiple Super Bowls. Gregg had the ability to take a highlight he was showing on the air and make it feel as though the viewer were there, often dropping the stats and simply being there for the play which made him stand out among his peers.
However, no sports teams compared to the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears and Minor League Baseball’s (MiLB) Harrisburg Senators, who Gregg covered extensively. The Senators recently honored Mace with their own ceremony last summer, inducting him into their “Bobblehead Hall of Fame” with a life-size bobblehead figurine that will remain on display at FNB Field on City Island in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Mace became the first non-player to receive the honor with a small number of bobbleheads distributed to fans in attendance for the game. Much like the Bears, Mace covered the Senators each summer from 1987 until his passing in 2019.
Introducing our 2022 inductee into the One and Only, World Famous, Life-Size Bobblehead Hall of Fame: our friend, the legendary Gregg Mace. pic.twitter.com/6ObMIed2BI
— Harrisburg Senators (@HbgSenators) February 22, 2022
Gregg’s son, Kyle Mace, carries on his father’s legacy in many ways. Not only does he work with the Bears’ Great Save Production staff, creating social media content between the benches during games as well as behind the scenes (Kyle was Field Pass Hockey’s AHL Person of the Year for 2022) , but he also started the Gregg Mace Foundation in 2022. The Foundation furthers Gregg’s legacy of helping students pursue careers in sports media through scholarships and mentoring, and getting the sports journalists of tomorrow on the right track was a passion of his as much as any of his career accomplishments. Kyle remembers the importance his father placed on local sports, including the Bears.
“The Gregg Mace Foundation was started for kids in Central Pennsylvania that want to get into any form of sports media, sports marketing, anything sports,” Kyle Mace said. “Who want to work with these organizations and covering it as journalists like many others who loved this industry and were mentored by Gregg Mace. There’s a lot of people who were mentored by him who have learned his lessons and are able to pass them on to the next generation.
“He put his heart and passion into the Harrisburg Senators, the Hershey Bears, local high schools, and other organizations like the Harrisburg Heat because he understood how important and special it is to the group of fans that dedicate themselves to that organization.”
Our hockey family sends the sincerest congratulations and thank you to @abc27Sports Director @GreggMace! Gregg has spent 40 years covering the Hershey Bears for WHTM-TV in Harrisburg. Congratulations on the milestone! pic.twitter.com/mUuTYoV1bq
— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) January 26, 2019
Now, the Bears have the opportunity to honor Mace’s years of coverage and legacy with their own special honors. It’s the first time that the Bears have been able to hold a Hall of Fame induction ceremony since the 2018-19 season, with the team inducting a 2021 class and a 2022 class while omitting the year 2020. The committee that makes the selections consists of a “who’s who” of current and former Bears personnel including J. Bruce McKinney, retired President, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company, Doug Yingst, retired President/General Manager of the Hershey Bears; Dave Parro, former player and President of the Hershey Bears Alumni Association; Don Scott, former Hershey Bears public address announcer; Bruce Hancock, Co-Supervisor of Hershey Bears Off-Ice Officials; and Zack Fisch, Hershey Bears Manager of Media Relations and Broadcasting among others. As with previous classes of inductees, Mace is among some good company including legendary forward and two-time Calder Cup winner Keith Aucoin, legendary scorer and 1988 Calder Cup winner Brian Dobbin, and local linesman Don Foreman.
Hershey’s current Vice President of Hockey Operations Bryan Helmer knew Gregg well, having won two Calder Cups in two seasons as a Bear from 2008-2010 in addition to his time in his current role as well as serving as an assistant coach from 2014 to the present day.
“It’s neat to have known those guys,” Helmer said of the inductees. “I loved being interviewed by Gregg Mace. When we were playing Toronto in the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals, Gregg was the first guy I saw coming off the ice and gave him a big hug. He seemed to be part of the team and bled Chocolate and White, he did a lot during the time he covered us.”
REMEMBERING GREGG MACE: This Central PA sportscasting legend told so many stories, but we will never forget his.❤️
Full video: https://t.co/edYa8Wh3XA pic.twitter.com/pOjjF18pQO
— Priscilla Liguori (@PriscillaWFMZ) November 25, 2019
It should be a special night throughout the Giant Center. The Bears hosted an event to honor Mace after his passing in November of 2019 in the building and on the ice where he spent so much time covering the team. One of the last things he worked on before his passing in 2019 was to get the Bears back on television on ABC27, and the baton was passed to FOX43 in recent years where the Bears have a slate of ten televised home games. At the time the deal was made in 2019, the Bears had not been broadcast locally since 2016, and all of the broadcast games were dedicated to Gregg. He was extremely passionate about getting the Bears on television as he was with covering the team, whether it be the Calder Cup Finals or a player signing in August. To Kyle and his family, it’s the ultimate honor to be enshrined by the organization in a way that denotes mutual love from the organization that Gregg himself loved so much.
“To see these organizations give back to him as a way of saying thank you for more than being a sports guy who came out once or twice a year and read the highlights, but ingrained himself into the community and into the fandom of the team because he was a fan of every single team that’s honored him. To me, that’s the highest honor you can receive from a team like the Hershey Bears or the Harrisburg Senators because it shows that this person was important to the team, and we know the team was important to him.”
“To have that honor go both ways is really special to not only myself, my mother, the rest of my family, and everyone else including yourself that knew him and understood his passion for the Hershey Bears.”
The ceremony will take place before Saturday’s contest with the Rochester Americans, a fitting opponent to have for this night. Gregg’s first sports broadcast from January of 1979 featured him talking about an important game between the Bears and the Amerks that took place at the Hersheypark Arena. The names will be added to the Hall of Fame wall on the concourse at Giant Center behind Sections 118 and 119, alongside such names as Milton S. Hershey himself and more recent items like Kody Clark’s stick responsible for scoring the winning goal in Hershey’s 3,000th win a year ago. Each plaque on the wall has a picture of the person and a brief description, and as with the Senators, Gregg will be a part of both buildings he spent a lot of time in over the course of his career. For many, including this writer, Gregg will always be there in spirit for Bears games, and seeing his plaque on the wall will be a great way to honor him and always think of his iconic sendoff on the air. Thank you, Gregg!
“That was a look at sports, I’m Gregg Mace.”
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