For 37 years Andy Applegate's voice greeted Holy Spirit Spartans football fans on Friday night during the game.

The iconic public address announcer announced his retirement before the season after a nearly four-decade career with the Spartans.

In total, the Applegate family had been the voice of the Spartans for over 40 years.

On Nov 4, 1984, Andy's father Bob Applegate passed away. Andy, who had just graduated from the school in 1982, stepped in to fill the role that was held by his father the very next game. It was the last home game for Holy Spirit at Bader Field.

For the next 37 seasons, Applegate's familiar and friendly tone was heard on Friday nights at Ed Byrnes Stadium in Absecon.

"Gate" as he was known on campus, also was the PA voice for Spartans boys and girls basketball teams for the past eight seasons, and for the past five years, he was heard at Holy Spirit lacrosse games.

He was a constant at Spartans events, helping out in any way he could, including with the fathers club, Walshy's Warriors, and doing whatever else was needed to help the Absecon school.

Applegate and his family decided to move out of the area to retire, which he did before the season began.

Photo: Mike Gill
Photo: Mike Gill

However, he and his family, returned for the Thanksgiving game and were surprised by the naming of the "Applegate Press Box" and by stepping back into his familiar PA role for the second half of the game, one final time.

(Watch the halftime ceremony to honor Andy Applegate)

The school dedicated the press box with a new sign honoring the Applegate family and asked him to come into the press box to perform what he did for 37 years one final time - PA the football game.

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"At the request of the entire Spartan nation," current PA announcer Dennis Smith said.  "We would like to invite Andy back into the box for one last encore and call the second half of this game."

The entire team of current players then greeted Applegate on the field with hugs and Smith said, "there is no place I'd rather be today than in the Applegate Press Box."

Applegate obliged and for one final time, Spartan and South Jersey football fans like myself got to hear Andy call out plays one final time.

"No. 15 Sean Burns, complete to No. 1 Gavin Roman for another Spartans...FIRST DOOOWN!" Applegate alerted the fans in his familiar cadence.

A quick story from me on Andy, who I have come to know over the years from broadcasting many games at Holy Spirit.

On one Friday night this season, I was picking my girlfriend's son up from a game at Holy Spirit when the Spartans were playing EHT.  It was early in the fourth quarter, and I was sitting in the parking lot waiting for him to come to the car. I could hear the PA announcer calling out the plays, "pass from No. 15 Sean Burns, complete to No. 1 Gavin Roman for a gain of nine yards - but noticed immediately that the voice wasn't Andy's.

It's the first thing I noticed.

I went home and immediately started googling his name and texting people to make sure he was okay.

That's how synopsis he was to Holy Spirit football for me.

Enjoy retirement Andy, but please know, you made an impact on not only Holy Spirit high school, but the entire community.

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