Son Of A Legend: Josh Rimer Recounts Unique Fatherhood In Advance Of His Father Jeff's Retirement

By Ed Francis on March 30, 2024 at 10:15 am
Josh Rimer with his father, Jeff Rimer, well before the Blue Jackets came into existence.
Josh Rimer

In advance of Saturday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Columbus Blue Jackets will honor longtime broadcaster Jeff Rimer with a pregame ceremony.

Rimer, 72, is retiring at the conclusion of the 2023-24 season after spending 20 years as the lead voice of the Blue Jackets.

While many in Columbus may only know Rimer for his time with the Blue Jackets, there is much more to the man behind the microphone.

His son, Josh Rimer, has the stories to prove it.  

 “It was really cool being his son throughout his career,” said Josh, who will be at Nationwide Arena for Saturday’s festivities to honor his father. “A lot of people like my dad and gravitated in his direction and enjoyed hanging out with him.”

“For Thanksgiving dinner, we would have Pavel Bure and Valeri Bure and Candace Cameron, or Rob Neidermeyer and Scott Neidermeyer,” recounted Josh, who would often spend time with future Hall of Famers because of the relationships his dad built.

“I was too young to appreciate it — but he (Jeff) had (Wayne) Gretzky and (Guy) Lafleur over. Growing up I appreciate it more and more, being able to be around these people.”

A native of Toronto, Ontario, Jeff would leave his hometown in the 1960's to begin what would be the start of an illustrious broadcasting career. “He grew up a (Maple) Leafs fan," said Josh. "He actually makes the joke that he left in 1967 after the Leafs won the Cup — and they haven’t won a Cup since.”

Jeff and Josh Rimer

After time in Calgary and Edmonton, Jeff began to work for CFCF Radio in Montreal in the 1970's and would stay there for eight years. Part of his duties included hosting the Montreal Canadiens pre-and post-game shows — but it was in Montreal that another sport became an important part of the Rimer's life. 

“He became a big baseball guy in Montreal," said Josh. "We were really close with (MLB Hall of Famer) Gary Carter's family.”

“It was Gary Carter that actually saved my dad's life in the locker room because Pete Rose wanted to beat him up.”

In 1984, Jeff was covering the MLB's Montreal Expos and was accused by Rose of being overly critical of him. It didn't go over so well.

“Pete didn’t like that," recounted Josh. "Pete went after him (Jeff) in the locker-room and ripped his collar. The owner of the Expos walked in and got pissed off, but it was Gary that basically picked up my father and moved him away from Pete.”

Following their time in Montreal, the Rimer's would move to the United States for the first time when Jeff got a job in Baltimore — and become close with another legendary name.

“My father would have the pre and post-game show host from the (Washington) Capitals on for the (Baltimore) Orioles. (That was) Larry King of CNN, who before CNN was doing pre and post-games for the Capitals," recalled Josh. "Larry would go on with my father for the Orioles games, and then he would have my father other on (for the Capitals games)."

Eventually, this relationship would turn into a new job for Rimer — without him knowing anything about it before it happened.

"(King) was having my father on the post-game, and that’s where Larry said 'Well, I've taken a job with CNN so your new pre and post-game host is Jeff Rimer," says Josh.

“The station (and Jeff) didn’t know Larry was going to do that, but ended up hiring my father.”   

Jeff and Josh Rimer

Shortly thereafter, Rimer moved from the desk into the play-by-play booth — a role he still has today, albeit in a different sport and of course, in a different city.

"(Baltimore) did a restructuring of the broadcast team, and that’s how my dad ended up doing play-by-play."

The cool experiences for Josh would continue in the mid-Atlantic, as Jeff got him as a job as the away team's batboy at Camden Yards. But there would be unique experiences for Jeff, too. 

“He was a big part of Cal Ripken's record-breaking game streak," said Josh. Jeff was hyping up Ripken's consecutive game streak — one that Ripken broke in 1995 — and let the audience know how important of a streak it was. Some didn't see it as a big deal, but Jeff would continue to champion its importance.

“There's a baseball bat in my dad's office and it's from Cal Ripken, signed to 'Jeff Ripken' — because he's like another brother.”

Ripken's streak ended in 1998, but its withstood the test of time and is not in jeopardy of being broken. 

After leaving Baltimore, it was off to south Florida. Jeff began a stint working with the Florida Panthers while still working some Washington Capitals games before eventually moving full-time to Florida.

In 2004, it was off to what would be his final role — the television play-by-play commentator for the Blue Jackets. Jeff called his 2,000th NHL game in 2017, and his role with the club has been the longest of any he's ever had. Throughout his decades of experience in different sports, with different roles, and in different cities, Josh says there is one thing that stick out to him about his father.

“With him, it's work ethic. That’s the first thing I think of when I think of my father.”

“I've been around a lot of broadcasters," says Josh, who has also worked in broadcasting and currently resides in Toronto. "I've never seen anyone prepare as much as he prepares."

"I remember growing up when I did see him, he’d be sitting at the kitchen table for hours, doing notes, going over line combinations, working on pronunciation of players names," recounted Josh.

"It takes a lot to prepare for these games.”

As Jeff Rimer gets ready to wrap up his career, Josh Rimer knows that Columbus will always have a big spot in his father's heart — both the city and the Blue Jackets, but The 5th Line as well.

“He knows how special the fans are.”

Rimer's retirement ceremony will begin at 6:55 p.m., with Saturday's puck-drop against the Penguins set for approximately 7:15 p.m. The ceremony will be hosted by former Blue Jackets player and current television color analyst (and Rimer's broadcast partner) Jody Shelley.

It will also include a special video tribute and gift presentations from Blue Jackets President of Hockey Operations John Davidson.

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