February 21, 2006


Curt Gowdy, 86; Versatile Broadcaster Helped Televised Sports Come of Age (Robyn Norwood, February 21, 2006, LA Times)

Curt Gowdy, the neighborly broadcaster whose voice was the soundtrack of World Series games, Super Bowls, NCAA Final Fours and Rose Bowls as televised sports came of age, has died. He was 86.

Gowdy died Monday at his winter home in Palm Beach, Fla., after a long battle with leukemia, said a spokesman for the Boston Red Sox, his employer before his career with NBC.

Dodger broadcaster Vin Scully called Gowdy "one of the great broadcasters in the history of sports," and other colleagues praised his versatility in announcing almost every major sporting event.

"His powerful Wyoming voice was one of the greatest, and no one will ever again do all the events he did," said CBS broadcaster Dick Enberg, who considered Gowdy a mentor. "He was a beautiful man and great influence. The last of the dinosaurs."

Gowdy was the play-by-play man for NBC's World Series broadcasts for 10 consecutive years in the 1960s and '70s, and did seven Super Bowls for the network, including Super Bowl I in 1967.

Legendary sportscaster Curt Gowdy dies (HOWARD ULMAN, 2/21/06, Chicago Sun-Times)
It all started as he sat on a box, his microphone on another box, for his first play-by-play -- a six-man football game in Cheyenne, Wyo., in subzero temperatures in 1944.

He brought a warm feel to the broadcast booth, his commentary full of good humor and enthusiasm.

He once said, "I tried to pretend that I was sitting in the stands with a buddy watching the game, poking him in the ribs when something exciting happened. I never took myself too seriously. An announcer is only as good as yesterday's performance."

Mr. Gowdy spent 15 years as the Boston Red Sox play-by-play announcer from 1951-1965. He left the Red Sox for a 10-year stint on NBC's "Game of the Week" baseball broadcasts through 1975.

He covered many Super Bowls and NCAA basketball Final Fours.

An avid outdoorsman, the native of Green River, Wyo., also was host of the "American Sportsman" on ABC from the 1960s into the 1980s.

Sportscaster Curt Gowdy dies at 86: A big-game voice that defined an era (Mark Feeney, February 21, 2006, Boston Globe)
Curt Gowdy, who went from being the voice of the Red Sox for 15 seasons to becoming America's premier sportscaster in the late '60s and early '70s, died of leukemia yesterday at his Palm Beach, Fla., home. He was 86.

Mr. Gowdy was ''one of the greatest sports broadcasters in history," NBC Universal sports chairman Dick Ebersol said yesterday. Mr. Gowdy, who spent most of his career at NBC, also broadcast for ABC and CBS Radio.

''He was in a class with Mel Allen and all those great announcers," Johnny Pesky of the Red Sox said of Mr. Gowdy yesterday. ''You always go by the voice, and when they got that good voice, you could listen to them all day."

Mr. Gowdy's voice was a warm, mellow twang. With it, he called Carl Yastrzemski's first at-bat -- and Ted Williams's last. ''It was one of the big thrills of my life," Mr. Gowdy said in a Globe interview last August about announcing Williams's last home run.

''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.' "

Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu (John Updike, 1960-10-22, The New Yorker)
A tight little flock of human sparrows who, from the lambent and pampered pink of their faces, could only have been Boston politicians moved toward the plate. The loudspeakers mammothly coughed as someone huffed on the microphone. The ceremonies began. Curt Gowdy, the Red Sox radio and television announcer, who sounds like everybody's brother-in-law, delivered a brief sermon, taking the two words "pride" and "champion" as his text. It began, "Twenty-one years ago, a skinny kid from San Diego, California . . ." and ended, "I don't think we'll ever see another like him."

The voice of an artist: Gowdy owns big place in Red Sox history (Steve Buckley, February 21, 2006 , Boston Herald)
A couple of years ago, Curt Gowdy was honored at The Tradition, the Sports Museum of New England’s annual awards presentation. As the applause softened and the old sportscaster looked out at the gathering on the floor of the then FleetCenter, he adjusted the microphone, paused for a beat and said, “Hi, neighbor, have a ’Gansett!”

Here's a special bit for your iPod.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 21, 2006 10:04 AM

NBC never really offered up a full explanation of why the unceremoniusly dumped Gowdy as their lead play-by-play announcer at the end of 1975. He was just there one day, and for all intents and purposes gone from the public eye the next, except for his ABC work with "The American Sportsman" and some of the network's Olympic telecasts (at least when CBS did the same thing with Brent Mussberger in the middle of the Final Four about 15 years later, they were quick to say money was the reason he became a non-person to the network).

Posted by: John at February 21, 2006 11:03 AM

Looks like Alex Karras is never going to get that American Sportsman carp fishing trip to the Cal-Sag channel now.

Posted by: Rick T. at February 21, 2006 11:22 AM

What's a Gansett?

Posted by: John J. Coupal at February 21, 2006 1:33 PM

'Gansett = panther urine.

Posted by: ghostcat at February 21, 2006 4:50 PM


Looking back, one suspects we didn't get the full story as to why CBS decided to fire Mushburger.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at February 21, 2006 7:36 PM

Matt --

If they had a similar drinking game back in the 1970s when Brent was hosting "The NFL Today" I never would have made it to the late game on Sunday (or any early class on Monday).

Posted by: John at February 21, 2006 9:19 PM

I don't mean to take a shot at poor, befuddled Dick Ensberg, but how can he say that Gowdy was the last of the dinosaurs when the great Vin Scully (Tyrannosaurus Red?) is still roaming the earth. There is still no greater pleasure in sports than listening to Vin do a few innings of a baseball game on the radio...

Posted by: Foos at February 21, 2006 9:32 PM


These oldsters can add pure pleasure to a game when they start to go slightly dotty beside all the young blow-dried automatons giving us tightly controlled and hyped cant. It is like their minds are set on a five-second time delay. We have this dinosaur named Harry Neale who has been doing colour commentary since the jurassic period. Yesterday he was doing the Canada-Czech Olympic game, which Canada won despite being badly outplayed:

Announcer: "So far in this period the Czechs have outshot Canada seven to nothing."

Neale: "Well, you would certainly have to say Canada hasn't had any really good scoring chances."

Posted by: Peter B at February 22, 2006 7:15 AM