Monday, February 27, 2006

 

Sportscasters: A passing.

Many of you are aware that Curt Gowdy, a Hall of Fame sports broadcaster, passed away recently. He was one of my favorites throughout my life. I started watching baseball in the mid-1950s when Curt was calling Boston Red Sox games. Of course, at that time, he was my ONLY sportscaster. But as I grew older and I saw other sportscasters on TV, Curt remained one of my favorites. His laid back style was far better to my thinking than those screamers of today who talk incessantly (do they think they are on radio? we can see what's happening on TV!).

As good as he was on baseball, I think he was even better covering the Olympics and the American Sportsman. And I don't think there was a better broadcast team for pro-football than Curt and Paul Christman in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Although I think the best single football announcer was Ray Scott, who called the Greenbay Packer games ("Hornung - five yards.").

My favorite baseball broadcaster has to be Joe Garagiola. He had so many great stories. I recall one time when he explained how good a kid had to be in order to make it to the big leagues. He said, "You've got to be about the best player in your whole state. Heck, growing up next to Yogi, I wasn't even the best player on the block!"

Gowdy was also a great basketball announcer. I recall him doing a Boston Celtic game in the 1950s and Frank Ramsey was about to enter the game as a substitute. Frank was called the great 6th man, because he rarely started a game and was used as the first reserve, thus being called a sixth man. I never knew why this was so important, but Gowdy explained that Ramsey could enter a game and score right away. Sure enough, Ramsey entered the game and, within about two minutes, he had 5 or 6 points. So, the Celtics lost nothing in the way of productive play when they used this "sub." Red Aurebach's coaching taught this to the basketball world. Curt Gowdy taught it to me.

The most entertaining basketball announcer had to be Johnny Most. My friends and I used to watch Celtic games on TV and turn the sound off so we could have the radio on at the same time with Johnny Most giving the play-by-play. We used to joke that we actually could take in two different games that way, because Johnny had such a creative style that he seemed to be calling a totally different game. ("Elgin baylor has the ball. Elgin wants to operate. Russell won't let him!" - Come to think of it, that WAS what was happening!).

Thanks, Curt, for many great calls and many great games. We'll never see the likes of you again.

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