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Curt Gowdy

Curt Gowdy
Born July 31, 1919(1919-07-31)
Green River, WyomingDied February 20, 2006(aged 86)
Palm Beach, Florida

Curtis Edward "Curt" Gowdy (July 31, 1919February 20, 2006) was an American sportscaster, well-known as the longtime "voice" of the Boston Red Sox and for his coverage of many nationally-televised sporting events, primarily for NBC Sports in the 1960s and 1970s.

Contents

Boston Red Sox

Gowdy began his Major League Baseball broadcasting career working as the No. 2 announcer to Mel Allen for New York Yankees games on radio and television in 1949-50. There he succeeded Russ Hodges, who departed to become the New York Giants' lead announcer when the Yankees and Giants decided to broadcast a full slate of 154 games, instead of sharing the same radio network and announcers for 77 games each. Two years later, in Boston, the Red Sox and the Boston Braves followed a similar path, with each team opting for its own networks and announcers. Jim Britt decided to stay with the Braves, opening the top spot on the Red Sox' broadcast team.

In April 1951 at the age of 31, Gowdy began his tenure as the lead announcer for the Red Sox. For the next 15 years, he called the exploits of generally mediocre Red Sox teams on WHDH radio and on three Boston TV stations: WBZ-TV, WHDH-TV, and WNAC-TV. During that time, Gowdy partnered with two future baseball broadcasting legends: Bob Murphy and Ned Martin. His nagging bad back caused Gowdy to miss the entire 1957 season.

He left the Red Sox after the 1965 season for NBC Sports, where for the next ten years he called the national baseball telecasts of the Saturday afternoon Game of the Week and Monday Night Baseball during the regular season (and the All-Star Game in July), and the post-season playoffs and World Series in October.

National broadcaster

Early ABC Sports career

Gowdy had numerous network assignments, first for ABC-TV in 1960, where he covered the first five seasons of the American Football League with broadcast partner Paul Christman.

NBC Sports

In the fall of 1965 he moved to NBC for over a decade. Gowdy was the lead play-by-play announcer for the network for both the American Football League (AFC from 1970 on) and Major League Baseball, but Gowdy also covered a wide range of sports, earning him the nickname of the "broadcaster of everything."

Besides Paul Christman, who followed him to NBC in 1965, his other football broadcast partners were Kyle Rote, Al DeRogatis, Don Meredith, John Brodie, and Merlin Olsen. His broadcast partners for baseball included Pee Wee Reese, Tony Kubek, and Joe Garagiola. He also had many different partners for basketball. Al DeRogatis was also Gowdy's partner for the college football games.

Departure from NBC's baseball telecasts

After the 1975 World Series, he was removed from NBC's baseball telecasts, when sponsor Chrysler insisted on having Joe Garagiola (who was their spokesman in many commercials) be the lead play-by-play voice. While Gowdy was on hand in the press box for Carlton Fisk's legendary home run in Game 6 of the 1975 Series, the actual calls went to two of Gowdy's Red Sox successors, Dick Stockton on TV and Ned Martin on radio.

Later years on The NFL on NBC

Gowdy continued as NBC's lead NFL announcer through the 1978 season, with his final broadcast being the memorable Super Bowl XIII between Pittsburgh and Dallas. With NBC now anxious to promote Dick Enberg to the lead NFL position, Gowdy moved over to CBS to call more football, as well as baseball on radio.

Notable moments called by Gowdy

Curt Gowdy was present for some of American sports' storied moments, including Ted Williams' home run in his final at-bat in 1960, Super Bowl I, the AFL's infamous "Heidi" game of 1968, and (after the 1968 pro football season) the third AFL-NFL World Championship game (Super Bowl III) in which Joe Namath and the New York Jets defeated the NFL champion Baltimore Colts. He also covered Franco Harris' "Immaculate Reception" of 1972, Clarence Davis' miraculous catch in a "sea of hands" from Oakland Raiders Quarterback Ken Stabler, to defeat the Miami Dolphins in the final seconds of a legendary 1974 AFC playoff game, and Hank Aaron's 715th home run in 1974. In an interview by NFL Films, he said his most memorable game was Super Bowl III when the Jets upset the heavily-favored Colts 16-7 after Namath guaranteed victory.[citation needed] Gowdy endeared himself to long-suffering American Football League fans when it was learned that in an off-air break towards the end of the game, he asked rhetorically: "I wonder if that (S.O.B.) Tex Maule is watching?", a reference to the Sports Illustrated writer who for years had denigrated the AFL. On-air, in contrast to his contemporary announcers of NFL games, he avoided their hyperbole and transparent adulation of players, and gave steady, non-partisan, but colorful descriptions of AFL games. Gowdy was also known for the occasional malapropism, including a consoling comment just after the Red Sox lost the 1975 World Series: "Their future is ahead of them!"

Notable assignments

Over the course of a career that stretched into the 1980s, Gowdy covered pro football (both the AFL and NFL), Major League Baseball, college football, and college basketball. He was involved in the broadcast of 13 World Series, 16 baseball All-Star Games, 9 Super Bowls, 14 Rose Bowls, 8 Olympic Games and 24 NCAA Final Fours. He also hosted the long-running outdoors show The American Sportsman on ABC.

Gowdy called all the Olympic games televised by ABC (with the exception of the 1988 Winter Olympic games) from 1964-84 with Roone Arledge's sports department at ABC.

In the mid-1970s Gowdy was host and producer of The Way It Was, for PBS, and in later years provided historic commentary for Inside the NFL, on HBO.

Relationship with Roone Arledge

Gowdy was also close friends with Arledge, and acknowledges that he gives him all the credit for making ABC what it is today, including the creation of the network's sports department, and the innovations for televising sporting events that made the sports departments at NBC and CBS jealous. The two were the creators, and very first producers for the Wide World of Sports television show.

In 1970, he was coveted by ABC's Roone Arledge for the new Monday Night Football, but Gowdy was bound by his contract to NBC Sports (although he continued with Grits Gresham of Natchitoches, Louisiana, to host the outdoors show The American Sportsman on ABC).

Commentating style

Gowdy was said to have a warm, slightly gravelly voice and an unforced, easy style that set him apart from his peers. Unlike many well-known announcers, Gowdy never developed catch-phrases or signature calls, but merely described the action in a straightforward manner. Examples:

Jack Fisherinto his windup, here's the pitch...Williamsswings, and there's a long drive to deep right...that ball is going, and it is gone! A home run for Ted Williams, in his last time at bat in the major leagues! - Calling Williams' final career at-bat on September 28, 1960. ”
“ The ball's hit deep... deep...it is gone! He did it! He did it! Henry Aaron... is the all-time home run... leader now! - Calling Aaron's 715th career home run on April 8, 1974. ”

Retirement

He retired in 1985, when The American Sportsman was canceled. Gowdy briefly came out of retirement in 1988, calling NFL games for NBC with Merlin Olsen, while Olsen's regular partner Dick Enberg was covering the Olympics in Seoul.

In May 2003, a few months shy of his 84th birthday, Gowdy called a Red Sox-Yankees game from Fenway Park, as part of the ESPN Major League Baseball "Living Legends" series. At the end of the broadcast, he thought he could have done better. ESPN's Chris Berman said, "We'll give you another chance." Gowdy replied, "Call me back."

Gowdy also co-hosted the DCI Championships on PBS from 1989-1993 with Steve Rondinaro.[1]

Film cameos

He also made cameo appearances in the movies The Naked Gun and Summer Catch, and his voice can be heard in BASEketball.

Author

Mr. Gowdy, who also did some sportswriting during his early broadcasting days, wrote two books: Cowboy at the Mike (1966), with Al Hirshberg, and Seasons to Remember: The Way It Was in American Sports, 1945-1960 (1993), with John Powers. He also wrote the foreword for the 2000 book The Golden Boy, authored by Dr. George I. Martin, in which Gowdy described the subject of the book, Jackie Jensen, as possibly the best athlete he had ever covered.

Radio stations

In 1963, Gowdy purchased radio stations WCCM and WCCM-FM in Lawrence, Massachusetts, later changing the FM station's call letters to WCGY to somewhat match his name. Gowdy also owned several radio stations in Wyoming, including KOWB and KCGY-FM in Laramie. He sold his broadcast interests in Massachusetts in 1994 and his Wyoming stations in 2002. He also owned WEAT AM-FM in West Palm Beach, Florida, and WBBX-AM in New Hampshire. The year away from broadcasting the Red Sox in 1957 awakened him to the fact that he might need an alternate way of making of living, leading to his interest in station ownership.

Television commercials

In the 1980s, Gowdy voiced a series of beer commercials for Genesee, an American product brewed by the High Falls Brewing Company in Rochester, New York. Essentially, these ads had an outdoor enthusiast theme, with Curt's tag line being "Genesee - the great outdoors in a glass".

Awards

In 1970, Curt Gowdy became the first sportscaster to receive the George Foster Peabody Award. He was elected to the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame in 1981. In addition, he was given the Ford C. Frick Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984, the Pete Rozelle Award from the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993 and a lifetime achievement Emmy in 1992, and was selected to the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame in 1995. Gowdy was president of the Basketball Hall of Fame for several years, and that institution's Curt Gowdy Award is presented annually to outstanding basketball writers and broadcasters; he was one of its first two recipients.

Curt Gowdy's 20 Halls of Fame honors/inductions:

  • 1. Conservation Hall of Fame International - April 16, 1973
  • 2. International Fishing Hall of Fame - 1981
  • 3. Natl. Sportscasters & Sportswriters Hall of Fame - 1981
  • 4. Sportswriters & Broadcasters Hall of Fame - 1984
  • 5. National Baseball Hall of Fame - 1984, Ford Frick Award recipient
  • 6. American Sportscasters Hall of Fame - 1985
  • 7. Museum of Broadcasting Hall of Fame - 1990
  • 8. Gold Medal Hall of Fame Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in New England
  • 9. Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame - 1992
  • 10. Oklahoma Assoc. of Broadcasters Hall of Fame - 1994
  • 11. Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame - 1995
  • 12. American Football League Hall of Fame - 1995
  • 13. University of Wyoming Athletics Hall of Fame - Sept. 25, 1998
  • 14. Florida Sports Hall of Fame - 1999
  • 15. Wyoming Sports Hall of Fame --- 2001
  • 16. International Game Fish Association (IGFA) Fishing Hall of Fame - 2003
  • 17. Wyoming Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame - 2003
  • 18. Wyoming Outdoor Hall of Fame - 2004
  • 19. National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame - 2005
  • 20. Rose Bowl Hall of Fame --- 2005 inductee (Jan. 3, 2006)

Curt Gowdy State Park

A new state park in Wyoming, opened in 1971, was officially named for Gowdy on March 27, 1972, one of numerous honors bestowed on the native son from the state of Wyoming on "Curt Gowdy Day." The 11,000 acre (44 km²) Curt Gowdy State Park is halfway between his hometown of Cheyenne and his college town of Laramie. Additional land was acquired by the state for the park in 2006. "It has two beautiful lakes, hiking trails, camping, boating, fishing, and beauty," said Gowdy. "It has everything I love. What greater honor can a man receive?"

Gowdy was proud of his Wyoming heritage and loved the outdoors, and said that he was "born with a fly-rod in one hand," and that the sports microphone came a little later. In 2002, he recalled that his father, Edward Curtis Gowdy, who had taught him to hunt and fish, was the best fly-fisherman in the state. "We had free access to prime-time fishing and hunting. The outdoors was a way of life for me. I should have paid them to host The American Sportsman."

Death

Curt Gowdy died at the age of eighty-six at his winter home in Palm Beach, Florida, after an extended battle with leukemia. His funeral procession circled Fenway Park and he was interred in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was survived by his wife Jerre, daughter Cheryl Ann, sons Curt, Jr., and Trevor, and five grandchildren.

Curt Gowdy Post Office Building

On October 12, 2006 the United States Postal Service located in Green River, Wyoming, was officially designated as the Curt Gowdy Post Office Building honoring the place of Gowdy's birth. The legislation required for the United States Postal Service name change was introduced by Wyoming House Representative Barbara Cubin.

References

  1. ^ http://www.dci.org/news/view.cfm?news_id=25c8e287-28fa-4bff-9736-08f68bea8251

See also

External links

v • d • eMajor League Baseball on ABCRelated programs: Major League Baseball Game of the Week · Monday Night Baseball · Thursday Night Baseball · Baseball Night in AmericaRelated articles: The Baseball Network · Ratings for ABC telecasts · World Series television ratings · Television contractsCommentators List of ABC commentators · All-Star Game · ALCS · ALDS · NLCS · NLDS · One-game playoffs · World SeriesKey figures: Gary Bender · Buddy Blattner · Jack Buck · Howard Cosell · Dizzy Dean · Don Drysdale · Carl Erskine · Curt Gowdy · Merle Harmon · Keith Jackson · Reggie Jackson · Jim Kaat · Tim McCarver · Al Michaels · Joe Morgan · Brent Musburger · Jim Palmer · Ross Porter · Bob Prince · Jackie Robinson · Chris Schenkel · Gary Thorne · Bob Uecker · Earl Weaver · Bill White · Warner WolfLore televised by ABC: Loma Prieta earthquakeLeague Championship Series broadcasted by ABC 1976 (ALCS/NLCS) · 1978 (ALCS/NLCS) · 1980 (ALCS/NLCS) · 1982 (ALCS/NLCS) · 1984 (ALCS/NLCS) · 1986 (ALCS/NLCS) · 1988 (ALCS/NLCS) · 1995 (ALCS/NLCS) All-Star Games broadcasted by ABC 1976 · 1978 · 1980 · 1982 · 1984 · 1986 · 1988 · 1995World Series broadcasted by ABC 1977 · 1979 · 1981 · 1983 · 1985 · 1987 · 1989 · 1995 v • d • eMajor League Baseball on NBCRelated programs: Baseball Night in America · Major League Baseball: An Inside Look · Major League Baseball Game of the Week · Major League Baseball on NBC Radio · Monday Night BaseballRelated articles: The Baseball Network · Ratings for NBC telecasts · World Series television ratings · Television contractsCommentators List of NBC broadcasters · All-Star Game · ALCS · ALDS · NLCS · NLDS · World SeriesKey figures: Marv Albert · Len Berman · Skip Caray · Jimmy Cefalo · Bob Costas · Leo Durocher · Dick Enberg · Joe Garagiola · Gayle Gardner · Curt Gowdy · Jim Gray · Bryant Gumbel · Greg Gumbel · Merle Harmon · Sandy Koufax · Tony Kubek · Ron Luciano · Bill Macatee · Jon Miller · Monte Moore · Joe Morgan · Lindsey Nelson · Pee Wee Reese · Ted Robinson · Vin Scully · Tom Seaver · Jim Simpson · Hannah Storm · Chuck Thompson · Bob Uecker · Maury Wills · Bob WolffLore televised by NBC: All-Century Team · "The Catch" · Grand Slam Single · Jeffrey Maier · "The Sandberg Game" · "The Shot Heard 'Round the World" League Championship Series broadcast by NBC 1969 (ALCS/NLCS) · 1970 (ALCS/NLCS) · 1971 (ALCS/NLCS) · 1972 (ALCS/NLCS) · 1973 (ALCS/NLCS) · 1974 (ALCS/NLCS) · 1975 (ALCS/NLCS) · 1977 (ALCS/NLCS) · 1979 (ALCS/NLCS) · 1981 (ALCS/NLCS) · 1983 (ALCS/NLCS) · 1985 (ALCS/NLCS) · 1987 (ALCS/NLCS) · 1989 (ALCS/NLCS) · 1995 (ALCS/NLCS) · 1996 (ALCS) · 1997 (NLCS) · 1998 (ALCS) · 1999 (NLCS) · 2000 (ALCS) All-Star Games broadcast by NBC 1950 · 1951 · 1952 · 1953 · 1954 · 1955 · 1956 · 1957 · 1958 · 1959: FirstSecond · 1960: First–Second · 1961: First–Second · 1962: First–Second · 1963 · 1964 · 1965 · 1966 · 1967 · 1968 · 1969 · 1970 · 1971 · 1972 · 1973 · 1974 · 1975 · 1977 · 1979 · 1981 · 1983 · 1985 · 1987 · 1989 · 1994 · 1996 · 1998 · 2000World Series broadcasted by NBC 1950 · 1951 · 1952 · 1953 · 1954 · 1955 · 1956 · 1957 · 1958 · 1959 · 1960 · 1961 · 1962 · 1963 · 1964 · 1965 · 1966 · 1967 · 1968 · 1969 · 1970 · 1971 · 1972 · 1973 · 1974 · 1975 · 1976 · 1978 · 1980 · 1982 · 1984 · 1986 · 1988 · 1995 · 1997 · 1999 v • d • eBaseball Hall of FameClass of 1984BBWAA VoteLuis Aparicio(84.62%) • Don Drysdale(78.41%) • Harmon Killebrew(83.13%) Veterans CommitteeRick FerrellPee Wee ReeseJ. G. Taylor Spink AwardKen Smith Ford C. Frick AwardCurt Gowdy


Preceded by
Jack BrickhouseFord C. Frick Award
1984Succeeded by
Buck CanelPreceded by
Ray Scottand Vin ScullyWorld Seriesnetwork television play-by-play announcer (with Harry Carayin 1964and Joe Garagiolain 1975)
1964
1966-1975Succeeded by
Joe GaragiolaPreceded by
Chris SchenkelAmerican television prime time anchor, Winter Olympic Games
1972Succeeded by
Jim McKay
Categories: 1919 births | 2006 deaths | American Football League announcers | American sports announcers | Boston Celtics | Boston Red Sox sportscasters | Ford Frick Award | Leukemia deaths | Major League Baseball announcers | National Basketball Association broadcasters | National Football League announcers | National Hockey League broadcasters | Peabody Award winners | People from Cheyenne, Wyoming | People from Wyoming | Poker commentators | University of Wyoming alumniHidden categories: All articles with unsourced statements | Articles with unsourced statements since February 2007

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