August 28, 2005


Voice of a nation: Gowdy was team's best (Dan Shaughnessy, August 28, 2005, Boston Globe)

In the years after leaving the Red Sox, Curt [Gowdy] would become the nation's first famous TV sports broadcaster, working for all three major networks and earning plaques in the baseball, football, and basketball halls of fame. He called Super Bowls, World Series, Rose Bowls, Final Fours, and Olympics. He hosted ABC's ''American Sportsman" for 15 years.

But in Scituate and Saugus, Greenfield and Groton, he forever will be the voice of the Red Sox, the man who said goodbye to Ted and hello to Yaz, the man who can still make some of us 10 years old if we hear him say, ''Hi, neighbor, have a 'Gansett."

The Red Sox are honoring Curt before today's game against the Tigers. It's a nice touch by an ownership group that has consistently paid homage to those who came before. On the cover of the 2005 Sox media guide, superimposed over a photo of the celebration in St. Louis (Somebody, grab that ball from Doug!) and an embossed image of the World Series trophy, it reads, ''This championship isn't just about these 25 guys. This is for every fan who has ever been to Fenway Park . . . This championship is for everyone who came so close and for everyone who cared so much."

The Sox never came close when Curt worked at Fenway from 1951-65, but we all cared, and one of the reasons we cared was the brilliance of Curt Gowdy. His voice and delivery went down like a tall glass of lemonade on a hot summer afternoon. He relaxed us while he told the story of a Red Sox game, too often a loss to the Yankees, Tigers, or White Sox.

''It wasn't like it is now," Gowdy, 86, said yesterday. ''But for the types of teams we had, the fans were very good here. On some Thursday afternoon games, we'd get 25,000 fans. That was remarkable. This has always been a great Red Sox city."

He came to us from Wyoming, after two years of broadcasting Yankee games with Mel Allen. He remembers Ted Williams sidling up to him around the batting cage at spring training in 1951.

''He came up to me and said, 'Somebody told me you like to fish,' and I said I'd grown up trout fishing in Wyoming and we were buddies from then on. We fished together a lot in the Florida Keys and sometimes he'd come out to Wyoming."

Gowdy was master of ceremonies on that September day in 1960 when Ted homered in his last at-bat in the big leagues.

''It was one of the big thrills of my life," said Gowdy. ''Before the game, [equipment czar] Johnny Orlando called me over and said, 'This is the Kid's last game. [Owner Tom] Yawkey and [AL president Joe] Cronin gave him permission to skip the last weekend in New York.' Well, Ted hit a long fly to right that didn't quite make it his third time up. Then his last time up, he hit that ball, and I saw it start to soar and get some distance. I got all excited and I said, 'It's going, going, gone!' and then I stopped and said, 'Ted Williams has hit a home run in his last time at bat in the major leagues.' "

Not a great book, but Stephen King's Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon nicely captures our love affair with baseball announcers.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 28, 2005 8:33 AM

The greater the love affair with the announcers, the more likely the team is known for being a loser. Jack Brickhouse and Harry Caray anyone?

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at August 28, 2005 1:45 PM

Not necessarily; before the Cubs, Caray used to broadcast for the Cardinals in their 'Sixties glory days. Marty Brennaman is a legend in Cincinnati and he covered THEIR prime period in the 'Seventies, and no one is more revered in the craft than Vin Scully, whose Dodgers were rarely losers - and NEVER lovable losers.

Posted by: John Barrett Jr. at August 28, 2005 7:40 PM

Bob Murphy took the Mets to the World Series several times.

Posted by: oj at August 28, 2005 7:43 PM

Don't forget the best of them all. Vin Scully.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at August 29, 2005 1:14 AM

They don't make 'Gansett anymore. For you people living in the hiterlands, 'Gansett refers to Narragansett beer. They used to brew it in Cranston, RI, my hometown.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at August 29, 2005 11:27 AM