Bob Neumeier, the affable broadcaster known as “Neumy” to legions of sports fans familiar with his work at Ch. 4, as a host on WEEI, or as a horse racing expert for NBC, died Saturday at age 70.
His wife Michele Ucci said he suffered from congestive heart failure and heart disease. He had been in hospice care for the past eight weeks.
“He was a fiercely private person,” said Ucci during a phone conversation Sunday. “He did not want anyone to know these last eight weeks except a few people, family and a couple of friends. He just said, ‘When I go, you know what? Everyone can know.’ This is that time. I took care of him for eight weeks, and Saturday was very hard, but he’s at peace now.”
Neumeier, a Weymouth native and Syracuse University graduate, was a well-liked fixture on the Boston sports media scene for nearly 40 years. From 1981-2000, during the heyday of local news, Neumeier was a reporter and anchor at Ch. 4, where his easygoing nature and deft writing ability made him a perfect complement to irreverent weekday sports anchor Bob Lobel.
“Neumy took his work seriously but not himself seriously," said Gary Tanguay, who worked with Neumeier at Ch. 4 and NBC Sports Boston. “I never saw him get upset at anything. Something like the wrong video could play, and he would just roll with it, like no big deal. I never saw him angry once. That is very unusual in the world of sports television.”
Alan Miller was hired by Ch. 4 as a sports producer in 1981, just a few months apart from Neumeier’s arrival from WTIC in Hartford, where he’d called Whalers hockey games and even suggested the team use “Brass Bonanza” — the team’s theme song that remains popular even now, long after the franchise moved to North Carolina.
Miller, now an assignment manager at Ch. 7, said he’s never worked with a more gifted television writer than Neumeier.
“TV writing is such a lost art, just the writing of the story," he said. “And he was without a doubt, the greatest writer that this market has ever seen. He was a phenomenal writer. He could make a Celtics practice sound like Game 7 of the NBA Finals.”
Neumeier was a serious journalist, too. On July 27, 1993, he broke the news of Celtics star Reggie Lewis’s death.
“He was an old-school reporter who knew how to tell a story as well as any reporter I’ve ever met,” said Dan Roche, a Ch. 4 sports anchor and reporter. “He was great at television, because he would use the best video he had and match it with amazing writing. He was the best TV writer I’ve ever known.”
Later, Neumeier co-hosted middays on sports radio station WEEI from 2002-05.
“He liked to approach things from that analytical perspective,” said Dale Arnold, his co-host. “We made up a term for our show called the ‘Nerds.’ Which was the ‘Neumy Educational Research Department.’ But he never did it at the expense of having fun. We had a blast doing that show together.”
Neumeier joined Comcast SportsNet New England (now NBC Sports Boston) in 2010. He also called the Bruins on WBZ (1030) from 1996-99, and was best known to a national audience as a longtime trusted expert on NBC’s horse racing coverage.
“You’d go to the track with him and just have laughs, and win a few bucks if you listened to him,” said Miller. “This is no exaggeration: He’s the greatest horse handicapper who ever lived. When he spoke about a horse he liked, his voice dipped, and people would listen like in those old E.F. Hutton commercials.”
Neumeier also contributed to NBC Sports’ hockey and Olympics coverage through the years. NBC said it would pay tribute to him Sunday during its “Football Night in America” broadcast.
An NBC spokesperson said in a statement: “In the midst of a prominent career in Boston, Neumy joined NBC Sports and for more than two decades was a beloved member of our family . . . Our thoughts are with Bob’s wife Michele, and the many sports fans to whom he meant so much.”
In October 2014, Neumeier was preparing to head to Los Angeles to be part of NBC Sports’ coverage of the Breeders’ Cup when he suffered a stroke that required 5½ hours of surgery. He returned to NBC Sports Boston’s airwaves in April 2015 and remained a clever and welcome presence. The network let him go amid budget cuts in 2016, but he was never far from Boston sports fans’ minds.
“Neumy was a wonderful husband," said his wife Michele. “We had so many laughs and so many adventures. Most of the time I was laughing at him. He was funny and the way he covered things in sports was very unique. He was so honest and said what he had to say whether it was popular or not.”
Roche said that might be what he admired about him the most.
“I loved that he didn’t care what people thought about him,” he said. “He just lived his life, doing what he wanted to do, and had a great time doing it.”