Before SportsCenter, Lisa Kerney was a top prospect in Butte

For a moment I thought I had a friend or, dare I say, a fan calling out to me at halftime of a Montana Tech football game early in the 2004 season.

I was talking with KXLF reporter Lisa Gangel on the Oredigger sideline as the teams headed to the locker room. We were discussing the first half when I heard the yelling.

“Foley! Foley! Hey, Bill Foley!” a voice called out from the student section at Alumni Coliseum.

I turned toward the crowd to give my best presidential wave and a quick “how you doin’” when I was stunned to hear several fans yell in unison, “Hey, Foley, get out of the way!”

As it turns out, the guys in the student section weren’t fans at all. They just wanted to get a look at Lisa, who was an 11 or 12 on a scale from 1 to 10.

Yes, most guys (and some gals) remember Lisa’s days in Butte quite fondly, even though they were short lived. Gangel wasn’t in Butte for long for the same reason Mike Trout didn’t stay long in any minor league city before heading to Anaheim.

Lisa Gangel was a star, and we knew she was destined for big things.

For one thing, Gangel was very knowledgeable about sports. She came to town after playing college basketball at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. She had an incredible smile with unbelievably white teeth and a personality that lit up the room.

Gangel also had, as Jerry Seinfeld would say, all the other qualities prized by superficial man.

So, every guy in town, young and old, figured he had to take a shot at Gangel, who was so far out of everybody’s league it was kind of sad. Still, the guys tried their best to flirt with her because she was everybody’s dream girl. She was easy on the eyes, plus she could talk sports with the best of them.

While some of the sports anchors at KXLF have made modest market jumps while leaving Butte over the years, Gangel left the Mining City for KING-TV in Seattle. That’s like going from Little League to Triple A, and it was a well-deserved promotion.

If you closed your eyes, Gangel wasn’t the best sports reporter to ever grace the local TV station, but she clearly had potential. She just needed a little work on her game before she hit it big time.

It was kind of like when Francisco Rodriguez was with the Butte Copper Kings in the late 1990s. The pitcher couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat, but his wild fastballs were clocked at 100 miles per hour. That’s why he was the “bonus baby” driving the brand-new convertible Mustang while his teammates were trying to scrape together money to share an old beater.

In Seattle, The MLB Network and WCBS-TV in New York, Lisa harnessed her control and become the major leaguer we all knew she could be.

Gangel, who is now Lisa Kerney after marrying former Seattle Seahawks defensive end Patrick Kerney, can now be seen on ESPN’s SportsCenter desk, and she is crushing it.

Maybe I’m biased, but I honestly think she is the best anchor on SportsCenter right now, and that isn’t just because she looks the best. She is definitely making her fans at her first stop proud.

Like when we watched 1982 Butte Copper King Cecil Fielder hit balls out of Tiger Stadium, we get to kick back, watch SportsCenter and say, “Hey, I know that person.”

Kerney joined ESPN in February 2014. She recently returned to the air after a maternity leave following the birth of her twin babies, Nos. 3 and 4 for the Kerneys. Since then she has been a regular SportsCenter anchor, following in the footsteps of the likes of Chris Berman, Linda Cohn, Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann.

At KXLF, Kerney worked with and then replaced Dan Toth, who is one of my favorite sports TV guys we ever had.

Dan, who now lives in South Carolina and is no longer in the TV business, used to have Matt Vincent and me on his sportscast every Monday to talk about football.

Because of the constant criticism of our less-than-professional wardrobe for TV during the 2003 season, Vinny and I called Paul Thomas at Thomas’ Family Apparel and asked him to “make us look ridiculous” for the first Monday of the 2004 season.

We were hoping for a Dumb and Dumber look with our tuxedos. We settled for looking like the old spokesman for Godfather’s Pizza when we walked into the KXLF studio that day. We didn’t know we were going to meet a future superstar.

“This,” Lisa said as she looked us up and down, “must be ‘the boys.’” Even though both “boys” were (and still are) happily married, we immediately realized we killed any chance we might have had with the big league sportscaster prospect with a preposterous first impression.

Being married didn’t stop a lot of other guys in town from putting their best foot forward.  It seemed like every guy in Southwest Montana — married, single, gay or straight — immediately turned into Eddie Haskell and tried to strike up a conversation when in the presence of Lisa.

We’ve had many good sports anchors at KXLF-TV over the years. Joe Wren was a great personality on our local station back in the late 1980s and early ’90s. Now the Anaconda native works for FOX 13 in Salt Lake City.

Pat Doumit was another really good sports anchor in Butte. I’m not sure where he is today, but he gave us a brush with fame when he announced that his brother, Ryan, was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second round of the 1999 draft.

Ryan Doumit played seven seasons in Pittsburgh before playing two in Minnesota and playing last year in Atlanta. He is currently a free agent.

Another one of my favorite local TV guys was Shawn Ori, who broadcasted sports on KTVM-TV. Ori had the tools to move up the ladder, but chose to stick around town and sell insurance.

Gordon Voit is currently the KXLF-TV sports anchor. Not only is Gordon one of my favorite TV sports guys, he is one of my favorite guys, period. Everybody likes Gordon, who knows the name of nearly everybody in town, and their children.

Gordon’s contract with the local station is up at the end of the year, and he is definitely destined for big things. He has some serious talent to go along the personality and work ethic to hit the big time.

However, during his nearly two years in town I’ve never been told to move it so someone could get a better look at Gordon.

So Gordo might not be SportsCenter material. He might have to settle for ESPNews.

— Bill Foley, who also very easy on the eyes, writes a column that appears on ButteSports.com on Tuesdays. Email him at foley@buttesports.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74.

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