Phil Schaefer reflects on North Augusta history

Springtime in the CSRA is loaded with memories for Phil Schaefer, a 1957 graduate of North Augusta High School who now has his own permanent parking space at Augusta National Golf Club where he has been a media fixture for almost a half-century.

The longtime radio sports announcer, also known as the author of the autobiographical “Sins of a Southern Sportscaster,” shared some memories in an April 27 visit at Nancy Carson Library, including his work at Augusta’s golf tournament and with such organizations as the Atlanta Braves, the University of Georgia and The Ohio State University.

A native of Chillicothe, Ohio, Schaefer pointed out that his announcing career began, in a sense, in North Augusta. “I went to the hardware store downtown. I bought a tape recorder and ... had to pay for it over a period of time. I think it was $35. That was an awful lot of money to me, at the time.”

His years at the high school were “really wonderful,” he recalled, recalling particular kindness from Geneva Knox, largely known as the daughter of local educator Paul Knox.

“Geneva, to me, was the face of North Augusta High School, and she was the welcome wagon and goodwill ambassador all rolled into one, and she made me feel very welcome from day one, and all the people of North Augusta were so friendly.”

Football was huge, he confirmed, recalling such players as Charley Britt, Charlie Williams, Jerry Priestley, Larry Baynham and Ralph Sapp. “The whole time I was in school, the football team never lost a game,” said Schaefer, who now lives in Dacula, Ga.

Schaefer had hoped to study at the University of South Carolina, to work toward a career in radio, but no such program was in place at the time, so he wound up pursuing his craft at The Ohio State University.

The road eventually led to Atlanta, where he became an announcer with WSB-TV, and the station became a springboard for him to travel around the country, helping present decades of sporting events from coast to coast, with Jack Nicklaus and Dale Murphy among his friends.

He also recalled recent remarks by Herman Cain, a businessman who went on to become a broadcaster and presidential candidate. Cain’s advice, Schaefer said, was to “ follow your passion in your life,’ and that’s what I did. I followed my passion.”