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Bell’s Press Box named for Tommy Philman Voice of the Bulldogs for 38 years

The Bell High School football game on Friday, October 9 was made special by a tribute given to a man who has meant a lot to not only the Bell Community, but to the high school and fans who would hear his voice and see his familiar cowboy hat at every home varsity football and varsity basketball game that the Bulldogs would play. Thomas Philman, aka, “Mr. Tommy” was honored before the Bell vs. St. Francis Catholic varsity football game Friday night for his dedication as a public announcer and clock operator for the Bulldog football and basketball programs for over 40 years.
Attending the ceremony was Mr. Tommy’s wife, Karen, his two sons Danny and Mitchell and many members of the Philman family. Mr. David Halter, a former coach and athletic director of Bell High School, gave a terrific testimony to the life and service of Mr. Tommy, not only for his service to BHS, but his unwavering love to his faith and his family.
Mr. Tommy graduated from Bell High School in 1968. He played football for the Bulldogs as a center and a nose guard. He married his wife Karen on April 12, 1974. They met when a group of girls that were in Mrs. Karen’s home economics class introduced her to him during a basketball game where he was running the clock. Mr. Tommy worked for Hunt’s Pest Control for many years and enjoyed farming as well. He started announcing for Bell High School in 1981 and became an inseparable part of Bulldog football games. Mr. Tommy’s trademark southern drawl, cowboy hat, suspenders and of course, his famous good-humored half-time jokes were a staple at home games. Mr. Philman was a true Bulldog fan, but sportsmanship was a very important aspect of sports that he stressed every time he announced a game. “I try to be a fair announcer”, he once said in a local sports magazine article. “ I feel like when I’m up there I represent Bell and I try to stress sportsmanship the best I can. After the game’s over, I want the other team to feel like they’ve been treated as fairly as Bell has. Straight down the middle.” Football games at Bell High have just not been quite the same since Mr. Tommy’s passing on July 30, 2020. On Friday, as the Bulldog faithful looked behind them at the press box on the home side, a banner was revealed that says, “Tommy Philman Press Box - Voice of the Bulldogs - 1981-2019”. Karen Philman was presented a plaque of honor by Bell High School Principal, Lisa Barry and Superintendent of Gilchrist County Schools, Robert Rankin and a plaque with Mr. Tommy’s photograph was also placed in the press box behind the stool that Mr. Tommy once sat in, watching the Mighty Bulldogs fight hard against their opponents on Friday nights in the fall, letting the fans know not only who was making the plays, but telling everyone before and after the game to “shake hands with your neighbor and tell them what a good night it is to be here”. Although the “Voice of the Bulldogs” is no longer with us, after a Bulldogs game, you might hear in the wind one last little joke in that unmistakable Gilchrist County drawl and know that Mr. Tommy is still enjoying the game that he loved so much.