LAPORTE — He’s done everything from being a pianist at the famed Playboy Club in Chicago to producing some of the most famous TV and radio commercials.
Alan Barcus is also a three-time gold medalist in basketball after his team of 80-year-olds defeated Russia, 48-37.
The FIMBA Maxibasketball World Championships are not an Olympic event, but it was still chilling to hear fans during the Aug. 3 championship game in Helsinki, Finland chanting ‘’USA, USA,’’ he said.
‘’We were all looking in amazement at the crowd,’’ Barcus said.
His team was assembled from players with the Masters Basketball Association, whose age 50-and-older members include former NBA and major college players.
Teams from close to 200 countries competed in four age brackets.
Barcus also brought home a gold medal on two other MBA teams he was chosen to represent the country during the event, which was headquartered in Espoo.
The games once held every four-years now occur every two years.
Ironically, the 82-year old Barcus played baseball and football at LaPorte High School and starred in track and cross country at Indiana State.
Barcus said he did make ISU’s freshman basketball team as a walk-on back when first-year college players were not eligible for the varsity.
In 1969, Barcus was a high school teacher and track coach near Terre Haute when he relocated his young family to Chicago when he could no longer hold back his desire to pursue a career in music.
Barcus said he went there without much professional experience or a job but soon found steady work on the piano for bands performing at the Playboy Club.
‘’If my mother would have walked into the Playboy Club and seen the bunny costumes, she would have fainted,’’ he said.
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He later moved into recording studios in Chicago, New York City and Los Angeles doing commercials for major companies involved in anything from fast food, beer and insurance.
Barcus said one of his most well-known pieces was a commercial from 1979 featuring the slogan ‘’nobody can do it like McDonald's can.’’
He’s most famous, perhaps, for the jingle on a still running commercial from over 30-years ago for an automotive repair chain.
He’s the voice of ‘’rattle, rattle, thunder clatter. Boom, boom, boom. Don’t worry call the Car-X man.”
Barcus said he produced close to 2,500 commercials that found air play during his career.
‘’You’ve not been able to avoid me if you’re over 30 or 20 even,’’ he said.
Barcus can be found on the hardwood on Monday mornings at the LaPorte Family YMCA players in their 50s like Tom Dermody, a former state representative and candidate for mayor, and some as young as in their 20s.
“You can’t leave Al Barcus alone on the baseline. He will drain it. He is fun to play with,’’ Dermody said.
Barcus has also written several plays performed on local stages and performed “You’re My Cubs,’’ the official song of the team for about a decade starting in the late 80s.
Nowadays, Barcus is retired but still does some occasional writing and production work.
For example, Barcus is composing an official song for the City of LaPorte at the request of mayor Mark Krentz, who’s seen him perform over the years.
“He’s a magical musician and composer and just a really interesting gentleman and a nice guy, too, on top of everything,” Krentz said.