Robert C. "Bob" Rais, whose voice was known to all Jets fans who attended games at Shea Stadium from 1964-83 as the public address announcer for the Green & White, died at his home in New Castle, NH, on Oct. 15, with his large, loving family by his side. He was 95.
Rais was a member of the community of great New York sports PA announcers that included Bob Sheppard with the Yankees and John Condon with the Knicks.
"My father announced for many of the sports teams in the city, but the Jets were his favorite," said his son, Chris, who worked Jets training camps and spotted for his father during games. "He was very meticulous in his preparation. The way I see it, he and Condon and Sheppard were the last group of announcers who just reported what was happening and didn't want to be part of the act.
"He did every game at Shea and the first season at the Meadowlands in 1984 until it got to be too much traveling from the east end of Long Island. But I know his time with the Jets meant a lot to him."
Rais was a friend and adviser to Jets Legends Gerry Philbin, John Schmitt and others. But before the Super Bowl era, Rais endeared himself to the Jets and their fans right from his first game on the job, which also was their first game of the 1964 season and their first playing at their new Shea Stadium home. The opener, on Saturday night, Sept. 12, of that year, featured Jets linebacker Wahoo McDaniel in his first game as a Jet, making plays and tackles all over the Shea field.
"At halftime Bob asked if it was OK to say, 'Tackle by Guess Who?' " longtime Jets public relations director Frank Ramos recalled. "In the second half, Wahoo continued to make even more tackles and Bob announced, 'Tackle by Guess Who?' And the crowd yelled back, 'WA-HOO!' It became a part of the opening-night victory and Wahoo, a Native American who was a famous professional wrestler in the offseason, ate it up."
Rais was a New Yorker all the way until he moved to New Hampshire in the Nineties. He was born in Richmond Hill in 1925, grew up in Jamaica, Queens, played varsity basketball at Hofstra University, served as a lifeguard at Jones Beach — where he met Eileen, his future wife of 63 years — and lived in Old Bethpage and West Bay Shore on Long Island.
He led a rich life that made many interesting stops around the metro area. Out of college, he was a U.S. Secret Service agent assigned to the Presidential Protection Detail for Harry Truman, safeguarding First Daughter Margaret. He held public relations and managerial posts in the New York offices of General Motors and oversaw the GM Futurama Pavilion at the 1964 New York Worlds Fair. For 37 years he was with Amity Chevrolet in Amityville, NY, first as partner, then as president and sole owner.
And of course there was Rais' love of sports, which led him into public address announcing not only with the Jets but with the New York Knicks and Nets, St. John's basketball, the New York Athletic Club, the International Soccer League and the Special Olympics.
Eileen passed away in 2015. Bob is survived by his youngest sister, Constance; his children, Paula, Laura, Claudia, Ellen and Chris; and by many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
A funeral mass in Bob's honor was held this morning in Portsmouth, NH, followed by a private burial at Oceanside Cemetery in New Castle. Donations in Bob's name may be made to The Children's Museum of New Hampshire.