BAY VILLAGE, Ohio – The funeral service for Cavaliers broadcaster Fred McLeod was held Saturday at Bay Presbyterian Church. The service was streamed live on cavs.com, and Bay Presbyterian Church pastor Mark Tumney led the congregation.
Along with Tumney, reflections on McLeod’s life and impact on the Cavaliers organization were offered by Jason Hillman, the Cavs’ basketball chief of staff and team counsel, and Brent Valenti, Fox Sports Ohio’s senior producer of Cavs basketball. McLeod passed away Monday evening. He was 67 years old.
Tumney on McLeod’s helpful nature
Tumney commented on McLeod’s willingness to offer a hand to others. He said recently McLeod had traveled to Canton to change the battery in his mother’s smoke detector. He recalled stories of how McLeod nurtured journalists who were working to break into the industry like cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor.
“Freddie’s desire to humbly mentor others was a clear evidence of God working through him,” Tumney said.
In his article Fedor wrote how McLeod gave him confidence and provided constructive feedback on his broadcast work.
“He encouraged me, propped me up and made me feel like I belonged in a booth somewhere,” Fedor wrote.
McLeod helped his friend and broadcast partner Austin Carr grow as a color commentator. Carr spoke with WKYC recently, and he talked about how McLeod taught him about the industry.
Hillman, Valenti on McLeod’s mentorship
McLeod was a broadcaster for the Detroit Pistons for 22 years, which is where Hillman and Valenti established their relationships with him.
Valenti spoke about how Hillman was a radio and TV reporter in Detroit from 1990-97. Hillman said Valenti was an intern in 1999 for Fox Sports Detroit, and has been McLeod’s producer with Fox Sports Ohio for the past eight years.
Hillman said he first met McLeod at a Detroit Taco Bell in 1990, and asked if there was an opportunity to be an intern as a high school senior. McLeod agreed. Hillman remembered a news article from June 1995 which touched on Hillman’s and McLeod’s relationship.
“In the article he was asked why he took a shot (with me), and Fred said, ‘Maybe I saw a little bit of myself in him,’” Hillman said. “Best compliment I ever got.”
Hillman, Valenti on McLeod’s preparation
The two men continued to reminisce, recalling how McLeod being ready for anything during broadcasts.
“Pronunciation of names, he was meticulous on this, as you know,” Hillman said.
“(At) 9:29 a.m., right before the 9:30 conference call, he prompted me to prompt him on the call to go over how to say Giannis Antetokounmpo,” Valenti said.
Valenti said McLeod went over his notes on airplanes while others were asleep or watched movies. He read articles on teams and players. Valenti said during his first year in Cleveland he went to visit McLeod and his wife Beth at their home, and saw how many articles McLeod had in the family room.
“Paper after paper, article after article, easily a foot tall,” Valenti said. “Literally everything written and said about a team and its players for months — highlighted lines everywhere.”