Voice From The Past: Vince St. Price Visits The PBA

The PBA’s in-game fan experience changed forever when Vince St. Price came onboard in 1992.

The man who brought PBA game announcing to a whole new level is back in town.

Former PBA game announcer Vince De Guzman (a.k.a. Vince St. Price) was at the PBA games on Wednesday. He’s here for a brief vacation, having migrated to the United States in 2004.

De Guzman was the voice of the PBA for much of the 1990s and early 2000s, the first game announcer who brought flair to the games.

“So far, it’s been a bit hectic for me trying to catch up with family and friends,” he told The GAME. “But I finally got some time to come and watch the games.”

De Guzman watched the Blackwater Bossing-Converge FiberXers game on Wednesday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum. He admitted he didn’t know anyone from either team save for Blackwater coach Jeffrey Cariaso.

“We came in almost at the same time,” he said of Cariaso, who was the league’s Rookie of the Year in 1995 with the Alaska Milkmen. De Guzman joined the league three years before.

Revolutionizing the game

It was actually Alaska team owner Wilfred Steven Uytengsu who first broached the idea of becoming a game announcer to De Guzman in the early 1990s. At the time, the game announcer was a one-man job done by Bochie Castro, who was good in his own way, but rarely took chances with his approach. Uytengsu convinced De Guzman to try something radical, and since then game announcing in Philippine basketball hasn’t looked back.

“I did it, of course, but not without the prodding of the chairman back then, Wilfred Uytengsu,” he said. “It was pretty much his idea to revolutionize the style of announcing, and I was the guy they picked to do it.

“They wanted to go in a different direction. Before, it was very simple. You would announce the name of the player on a foul. You’d only announce the name of the player on a three-point shot. But other than that, you’d make a two-point shot there were no announcements. The public address announcer was just announcing technicalities. They had me doing contests at timeouts. We had gimmicks going at halftime.  I even did the shoot for a million contest earlier in my career.”

De Guzman’s approach – announcing with a flair, calling each play – had its roots in his original job, that of a radio disc jockey where he was known as Vince St. Price. He entered the league at a time when the next wave of superstars following the pioneers – Alvin Patrimonio, Benjie Paras, Allan Caidic, Samboy Lim – were at their peak.

It was a different crowd back then, one that was prone to voicing its displeasure at a bad call in a more dangerous way.

“I got hit by quite a few coins,” De Guzman admits. “In Bochie’s time, it was only the one-peso coin and bente-singko and all that. When I started announcing, they had the two-peso coin, they had the five- and ten-peso coin, which were thicker and hurt more.

“In fact, I ordered three bottles of water, and they asked for the bottle cap. I guess they throw that as well.”

The PBA today

The PBA that De Guzman saw on Wednesday is a world apart from how he left it.

“They’ve got a lot of stuff going on,” he noticed. “They’ve got the girls dancing during timeouts. They’re slinging out t-shirts. They’ve got that kiss cam, flex your muscle cam, and that other stuff. We didn’t have that back when I was on. So there’s been progress, definitely.

“I noticed the players are much taller now. I think that’s the average height, 6’3” or something like that. It’s a bit physical, you can see.”

When told that venues started selling beer several years ago, he remarked: “Good thing they didn’t sell that during my time. I might have had a couple of beers.”

League commissioner Willie Marcial dropped by and chatted with De Guzman during the game, bringing back good memories

“We used to hang out back in the day. But now he’s commissioner so he’s got to stay away from me. I’m a bad influence.”

During halftime, De Guzman visited the league officials and employees, many of whom were already in the PBA when he was still around. One of them who wasn’t around yet was game announcer Jay Dela Cruz, who acted like he had just met Michael Jordan after they were introduced.

“I am really (at a loss) for words,” Dela Cruz said. “I used to imitate him when I was a kid when I played basketball. It’s still pretty unbelievable up to now that I get to do what he did before as my career. And now I met him. I mean, my goodness… I wouldn’t be doing this thing if it wasn’t for him.

“Kung hindi dahil sa kanya, wala kaming ganitong trabaho.”

De Guzman said Dela Cruz was doing a good job.

“Jay’s all right. He’s doing what needs to be done, making the right calls. Voice is loud and clear. Pretty much what you need for the game. I’m glad they continued the tradition.

“I just told him to keep on doing what he’s doing. He sounds good. I’m glad the torch has been passed on and they’re all doing what I did before.”

Banner photo by Sid Ventura.

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