May 25, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Remembering Mark Heller, a friend to so many; our readers share stories

Mark Heller posed for a picture after he did the play-by-play at a softball tournament at Cal State Fullerton in February. (Photo: Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone)

We’ve had tremendous response to our story about the death of popular Orange County sportscaster Mark Heller on Thursday.

We’ve read every comment on social media and it’s clear many of you are grieving his death and celebrating his amazing life.

Mark was one of a kind, a loyal friend to many, including this reporter. He loved his family, he loved sports and he fought leukemia from the day he learned he had it until the day he died.

Shortly after we saw him at JSerra’s CIF basketball playoff game on Friday, Feb. 21, Mark inquired about whether officials at the Orange County all-star basketball game had lined up a broadcasting partner. He was interested in announcing that game.

Mark’s work ethic was impeccable, whether he was doing the public address announcing at a Yorba Linda basketball game or calling four boys basketball games for an internet company at Pacifica Christian High School. He showed amazing strength calling five games over three days at a softball tournament at Cal State Fullerton, where he was positioned down the first base line to avoid getting any infections which would weaken him.

His voice was strong and his enthusiasm was amazing. He told us working these games was helping him cope with the disease. He was living for the moment.

This was before the coronavirus struck the world. A deeply religious man, Mark was always looking ahead boldly and optimistically.

Like many of you, we used to have great conversations with him about sports. Oh, how he loved sports and was eager to share his opinion, in a very positive way as only Mark could. Mark was one of our greatest supporters and top readers when we launched OC Sports Zone and we are forever grateful.

Mark cared about people, took many who needed help under his wings even though he knew he was battling the odds. He often talked about his love of his family, but said he wasn’t afraid of dying.

Judging from all the comments on Twitter and Facebook we’ve seen in the past couple of days, many of you had similar experiences similar to the ones we had.

We want to provide an outlet here for you to share your comments. You can post them in the comment section below (it’s very easy to do, just go to comments) or you can drop us an Email. These can be the same comments that you’ve posted elsewhere. We don’t feel right posting them without our readers permission.

We know Mark would appreciate it and he would love to see us publish them. Mark was never shy and his life and his struggles were an open book, which is why he inspired so many facing similar battles with this dreaded disease. It could also help a grieving family in this difficult time.

We feel blessed to have known him!

Tony DeAngelo:

“I am sorry to hear this news. Mark announced some of our games at the North-South Challenge when we first brought it to Tesoro over three years ago and did a fantastic job: he had a great passion for basketball, life, announcing and entertainment, which was always on display at his events.”

Gordon Spencer:

“Worked with Mark for years at Cox3. He was our basketball ‘guy.’ Well prepared. And very talented! He wanted to call every game of every sport! I can hear him calling the shots now. ‘Bullseye.’ Bullseye Mark!”

-Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com