CMDA Remembers Longtime Friend and Client Frank Beckmann
I first met Frank Beckmann through some Detroit Lions alumni events Lem Barney and Mike Lucci had taken me to in the late 1990s, and Frank and I instantly hit it off. It tickled me because I idolized the guy as a kid. Back then, I thought I wanted to be a radio play-by-play guy like all the legends we had in this town: Ernie Harwell, Paul Carey, George Kell, Bruce Martyn, George Blaha and more. Frank was the voice of the Detroit Lions and UM football, both starting in 1981. I was 11, the sports wheelhouse for a boy my age at that time in America. A lot of Lions games were blacked out on TV when I was a kid. Frank Beckmann and WJR was our only option. And let me tell you, he is the best football play-by-play voice I’ve ever heard. Period. Bar none. My lifelong buddy John Cuschieri (who now runs Minnesota Title Agency, with whom CMDA has a 40+ year relationship through its founder the late Paul Cuschieri and our firm co-founder, my dad, Ron Acho) and I would sit in a bedroom, passing a ball back and forth, listening to Frank. The guy made you feel every play.
After I became a lawyer, almost immediately Frank started having me on as a guest on his radio show to discuss sports law issues. It gave me credibility locally. Nobody knew who I was. He could have called big-time guys to come on and discuss issues–he used to in fact, for years–but now he called me to come on. He didn’t need to that. I would go on to appear on his show 30-40 times over the next 20 years until he retired in 2020.
Over the years I’ve met a number of young people who thought they’d want a career in radio or TV. I’d ask Frank to call them. Frank would have them to the studio, meet with them, discuss the pros and cons, all of it. He didn’t have to take the time but he did. In 2006, when several buddies and I resurrected a defunct sports magazine–Sports Review Magazine, which we turned into a sports blog–Frank did the voiceovers for the site if you recall. When you clicked on you heard “This is Frank Beckmann and you are looking live at Sports Review Magazine.” He didn’t have to do that. The man charged good money for his voiceovers and radio spots. (I know because I reviewed some of those contracts.) He did it for us for free. He also plugged my sister Stephanie’s chocolate shop frequently for years; he and his wife Karen loved her cherry cordials. Again, he didn’t have to do that.
When my dear friend John “Benny” Bieniewicz was killed in an incident that made national and actually worldwide news (John was a soccer ref punched and killed by an irate player to whom he’d given a red card), Frank raised a lot of money for John’s family through his show. He came to our benefit dinner. He played in the 1st JB golf memorial. (Frank was a solidly-built 6″5 and before his back surgeries could crush a golf ball. He won a ton of amateur outings in the 1970s/80s.) Frank and Livonia PD Chief Curt Caid were instrumental in raising a lot of money and promoting the cause and John’s family will never forget that.
Frank asked me to say a few words for him at his pre-MI Sports HOF induction dinner. He asked me to speak when he was feted at the Anchor Bar. I was not only happy to do it, I was honored. You cannot mention Frank without discussing politics. It’s who he was. Hardcore conservative to his soul. The man was Rush Limbaugh’s #1 choice to fill in for him and he did a number of times. Candidly, FB and I did not see eye to eye on politics. On some things we did, yes. On other things, not at all. In fact, we got into it privately in person over cigars a couple of times, once to the point on a UM bowl trip where we both left in a huff, Jim Brandstatter stepping in between us, ever the amiable peacemaker that he is. But Frank never held a grudge nor let it affect our relationship. Never. He always looked out for me. Conservatives call him a Patriot. Liberals call him (insert epithet). I called him a great guy and a good human being and most importantly, I called him a friend.
I hope to see you at a driving range in heaven one day, Big Fella, where we can share a cigar afterward. Rest in peace. –Jim Acho
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