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L E’s Stories – “The Broadcaster Of Everything” – Tribute To Legendary Sportscaster Curt Gowdy

The Golden Age of Sports from 1950 to 1995 provided the sports world with the greatest collection of sportscasting legends of all time….of which many of their stars were still shining some 50 years after they started their careers.  The list of legendary sportscasters includes Dick Enberg, Vin Scully. Jack Buck, Howard Cosell, Jim McKay, Keith Jackson, Pat Summerall, Harry Kalas, Chris Berman, Mel Allen, Brent Musburger, Chris Schenkel, Verne Lundquist, Harry Caray, Dick Vitale, John Facenda, Marv Albert, Bob Costas, Jack Whitaker, Dick Stockton, , Bob Costas, Jim Lampley et al…..but none is more respected than Curt Gowdy….who was referred to as “The Broadcaster For Everything” .  The truth be known, when it came to covering a myriad of sports as a broadcaster, none compared with Jim McKay and Curt Gowdy….as these two covered all kinds of sporting events that most of the others listed above had even heard of…..and for this and so much more, we dedicate this post to sportscaster Curt Gowdy. 

Sportscasters – 1949 To 1987 – Special – Sports Legends With George Plimpton – Featuring Curt Gowdy

Curt Gowdy (July 31, 1919 – February 20, 2006) was an American sportscaster….who is well known as the longtime “voice” of the Boston Red Sox….as well as for his coverage of many nationally televised sporting events….while primarily working for NBC Sports and ABC Sports in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  His accomplishments include coining the nickname “The Granddaddy of Them All” for the Rose Bowl Game….after taking the moniker from the Cheyenne Frontier Days in his native Wyoming.                                           

MLB – 1954 Thru 1957 + 1967 – Special Film – Boston Red Sox Highlights – With Narrator Curt Gowdy

Gowdy began his Major League Baseball broadcasting career working as the # 2 announcer to Mel Allen for New York Yankees games on radio and television in 1949–50…..where 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 the 77 home games of each team that had been broadcast….as no away games of either team were broadcast.  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 to allow each team to broadcast their full schedules, home and away.  Jim Britt, who had called home games of both teams, decided to stay with the Braves…. which opened the top spot on the Red Sox broadcast team…..and shortly thereafter, in April 1951 at the age of 31….that is when Curt Gowdy began his tenure as the lead announcer for the Red Sox…..and 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…..as WBZ and WNAC split the Red Sox TV schedule from 1948 through 1955…..WBZ alone carried the Red Sox from 1955 through 1957….and WHDH took over in 1958.  During that time, Gowdy partnered with two future baseball broadcasting legends in Bob Murphy and Ned Martin.  He also did nightly sports reports on WHDH radio when his schedule permitted…..and was also the narrator of several Red Sox highlight films during his tenure in Boston…..which described the season in depth along with its key moments….which would eventually lead Gowdy to narrating World Series highlight films during his time with NBC from 1968 to 1974 and 1977.

 

MLB – 1968 – Special Film – World Series Highlights – Detroit Tigers Vs St Louis Cardinals – With Curt Gowdy Narrating

Gowdy called Ted Williams’ final at-bat where he hit a home run into the bullpen in right-center field off Jack Fisher of Baltimore. He also called Tony Conigliaro’s home run in his first at-bat at Fenway Park on April 17, 1964 at the age of 19.  He left WHDH after the 1965 season and went to 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….as well as the postseason playoffs and World Series in October.  Following a stint calling NBA games for NBC from 1955 to 1960….that is when Gowdy moved to ABC….where he covered the first five seasons of the American Football League with broadcast partner Paul Christman…..as the two also teamed to call college football for ABC in the 1960 and 1961 seasons.                                                    

MLB – 1960 – Special – Legendary Sportscaster Curt Gowdy Calls Red Sox HOF Ted Williams HR In His Last At Bat

In the fall of 1965, he moved full-time to NBC….with whom he would be employed 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.”                                                                                     

NCAA Football – 1974 – Rose Bowl Highlights – Ohio State Vs USC – With Curt Gowdy Behind The Mike

Besides Paul Christman, who followed him from ABC to NBC….where his other football broadcast partners were Kyle Rote, Al DeRogatis, Don Meredith, John Brodie and Merlin Olsen…..whereas, his broadcast partners for baseball included Pee Wee Reese, Tony Kubek, Sandy Koufax and Joe Garagiola. He also had many different partners for basketball including Tommy Hawkins and Billy Packer….. while Al DeRogatis was also his college football games partner.                                                                                                     

MLB – 1971 – All Star Game Introduction – With Curt Gowdy + Tony Kubek

After the 1975 World Series, he was removed from NBC’s baseball telecasts after a controversy over comments of a call by an umpire….and when sponsor Chrysler insisted on having Joe Garagiola….who was their spokesman in many commercials…. be the lead play-by-play voice…..and 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…..as Gowdy was Martin’s color man on that home run.                                                                                                                        

MLB – 1977 – Special Film – World Series Highlights – New York Yankees Vs Los Angeles Dodgers – With Curt Gowdy Narrating

He 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….that is when NBC orchestrated a “trade” with CBS for the up-and-coming Don Criqui…. who would enjoy a long and memorable career with NBC…..so, after switching networks, Gowdy called NFL games on CBS for two seasons with former Kansas City Chiefs head coach Hank Stram….and also did baseball on radio.  He returned to ABC to call regional college football in 1982 and 1983….then in 1987, Gowdy was the radio voice of the New England Patriots.                                             

NFL – 1979 – Super Bowl XIII – Pittsburgh Steelers Vs Dallas Cowboys – With Curt Gowdy + John Brodie + Merlin Olsen

In 1976, when Gowdy otherwise still worked for NBC….and was loaned to ABC to work on their Summer Olympics coverage in Montreal…. where Gowdy called swimming with Donna de Varona and basketball  with Bill Russell…..as again our viewers get the opportunity to experience the many talents of “the broadcaster of everything”…..as he shows some of his many talents while covering swimming and basketball at the Olympics.                                                                                                                                                      

Olympics – 1976 – Montreal Games – Women’s Swimming 4 x 100m Relay Finals – With Curt Gowdy + Donna de Varona

Curt Gowdy was present for some of American sports’ storied moments…..which included Ted Williams’ home run in his final at-bat in 1960…..Super Bowl I with the Packers vs. Chiefs…..the AFL’s infamous  “Heidi” game of 1968….and (after the 1968 pro football season) the 3rd AFL-NFL World Championship game (Super Bowl III) in which Joe Namath and the New York Jets defeated the NFL champion Baltimore Colts…..then two years later in Super Bowl V with the Colts Vs Cowboys with the dramatic 16–13 Colts’ win over Dallas. The next year in 1971, Gowdy’s telecast on NBC caused many a Christmas dinner to be delayed as the country locked in that Christmas Day to the longest game in pro football history….when the Miami Dolphins defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 27–24 in the final game at Kansas City’s  Municipal Stadium….plus, 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.                                                                                                         

NFL – 1967 – Special – Legendary Sportscaster Curt Gowdy On Super Bowl I – Packers Vs Chiefs

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, nonpartisan, 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!”                                                                                                

MLB – 1954 – Special Film – Baseball In Boston – “An Inside Story” – With Narrator Curt Gowdy

Over the course of a career that stretched into the 1980’s, 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.  Gowdy called all the Olympic Games televised by ABC from 1964 to 1988 with Roone Arledge’s sports department at ABC.                                                                                                        

MLB – 1974 – World Series – Los Angeles Dodgers Vs Oakland A’s – With Curt Gowdy Behind The Mike

Curt Gowdy also hosted the long-running outdoors show The American Sportsman on ABC.  The American Sportsman is an American television series that aired from 1965 to 1986 on ABC which presented filmed highlights involving the program’s hosts and celebrities participating in hunting and/or fishing trips along with outdoor recreational activities such as whitewater kayaking, hang gliding and free climbing.  It was typically presented on Sunday afternoons, frequently following coverage of live sporting events.  From 1965 to 1967, the program was hosted by former South Dakota Republican Governor, American Football League commissioner, and World War II hero Joe Foss…..but it was later hosted by Grits Gresham, an outdoorsman from Natchitoches, Louisiana, and Curt Gowdy.                                                                                                                                                                                     

Sportscasters – 1968 – The American Sportsman Show – “Snake River Fishing” – With Curt Gowdy + Phil Harris + Jack Dennis

In the mid-1970’s, 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.  Gowdy was also close friends with ABC’s Sports Director Roone Arledge….as he acknowledges that he gives Arledge all the credit for making ABC what it is today….including the creation of the network’s sports department…..along with the innovations for televising sporting events that made the sports departments at NBC and CBS jealous…..as Arledge and Gowdy were the creators, and very first producers for the Wide World of Sports television show.  In 1970, he was coveted by ABC’s Arledge for the new Monday Night Football   ….but Gowdy was bound by his contract to NBC Sports….albeit he continued with Grits Gresham of Natchitoches, Louisiana, to host The American Sportsman on ABC.                                                                                                                                          

Sportscasters – 2011 – Special Interview With Legendary Sportscaster Curt Gowdy – On His Preparation For Announcing Football Games

Sportscasters – 2011 – Special Interview With Legendary Sportscaster Curt Gowdy – On Having One Of The Most Recognizable Voices In All Of Broadcasting

Gowdy was said to have a warm, slightly gravelly voice and an unforced, easy style that set him apart from his peers….when author John Updike once described him as sounding “like everybody’s brother-in-law.”…..who unlike many well-known sportscasters, Gowdy never developed catchphrases or signature calls….but merely described the action in a straightforward manner…..such as Jack Fisher into his windup, here’s the pitch…Williams swings, and there’s a long drive to deep right…it could be…it could be…IT IS! A home run for Ted Williams, in his last time at bat in the major leagues!”….when calling Williams; final career at-bat on September 28, 1960…..or like on April 8, 1974 when calling Hank Aaron’s 715th career home run to break Babe Ruth’s all time record for 40 years….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!”                                                            

Sportscasters – 1994 – CNBC Presents The Tom Snyder Show – With Legendary Sportscaster Curt Gowdy

Gowdy’s career wound down after The American Sportsman was canceled in 1985.  He briefly came out of retirement in 1987 to call the New England Patriots on radio….and in 1988 he returned to NBC to call September NFL games with Merlin Olsen and old partner Al DeRogatis….while Olsen’s regular partner Dick Enberg was covering the Summer 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…..when at the end of the broadcast, he thought he could have done better….to which ESPN’s Chris Berman said, “We’ll give you another chance.” Gowdy replied, “Call me back.”  Curt Gowdy also co-hosted the Drum Corps International Championships on PBS from 1989 to 1993 with Steve Rondinaro.                                                                                                                                              

Sportscasters – 1960’s – Opening To “The American Sportsman” – With Curt Gowdy

In 1970, Gowdy became the 1st sportscaster to receive the George Foster Peabody Award….and the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association named Gowdy as Massachusetts Sportscaster of the Year five times from 1959–63…..as well as the National Sportscaster of the Year twice in 1966 and 1969….then he was  inducted into its Hall of Fame in 1981.  In 1985, he was inducted into the American Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame along with his onetime Yankees partner Mel Allen and Chicago legend Jack Brickhouse…..where he served as the organization’s vice president and was a member of its board of directors.  In addition, he was given the Ford C. Frick Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984…..plus the Pete Rozelle Award from the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993….. then a lifetime achievement Emmy in 1992…..and was selected to the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame in 1995.  Gowdy was also the president of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for several years…..as that institution’s Curt Gowdy Media Award is presented annually to outstanding basketball writers and broadcasters….of which he was one of its first two recipients.                                                                                        

NBA – 1962 – NBA Finals On “The Way It Was” – Lakers Vs Celtics – Round Table Discussion With Curt Gowdy Plus Elgin Baylor + Rod Hundley + Bob Cousy + Red Auerbach + Chick Hearn

Curt Gowdy’s 23 Halls of Fame honors/inductions include: 

    • Conservation Hall of Fame International – April 16, 1973

    • Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement – 1973

    • International Fishing Hall of Fame – 1981

    • Natl. Sportscasters & Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame – 1981

    • Sportswriters & Broadcasters Hall of Fame – 1984

    • National Baseball Hall of Fame – 1984, Ford C. Frick Award recipient

    • American Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame – 1985

    • Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame – 1990, Curt Gowdy Media Award recipient

    • Museum of Broadcasting Hall of Fame – 1990

    • Gold Medal Hall of Fame Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in New England

    • Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame – 1992

    • Pro Football Hall of Fame – 1993, Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award recipient

    • Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame – 1994

    • Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame – 1995

    • American Football League Hall of Fame – 1995

    • University of Wyoming Athletics Hall of Fame – September 25, 1998 

    • Florida Sports Hall of Fame – 1999

    • Wyoming Sports Hall of Fame – 2001

    • International Game Fish Association (IGFA) Fishing Hall of Fame – 2003

    • Wyoming Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame – 2003

    • Wyoming Outdoor Hall of Fame – 2004

    • National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame – 2005 Rose Bowl Hall of Fame – 2005                                   

Sportscasterrs – 1984 – Baseball Hall Of Fame Ford Frick Award Induction Ceremony – Featuring Curt Gowdy Acceptance Speech

Sportscasters – 1981 – IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony – Featuring Curt Gowdy

So, the way we look at it here at ImaSportsphile is this….any sportscaster who gets inducted into 23 different sports Halls of Fame falls into a category that is simply described as extraordinary….for that is what Curt Gowdy was to the sports world for 40 years….while his value for bringing all kinds of sports to the world of television is undeniable.  The truth be known, we are “tickled pink” to provide video evidence of his mastery behind the mike….for it is our hope that in a small way, the videos content that we showcase in our video museum of his genuinely graceful talents will help keep the legend of sportscaster Curt Gowdy alive for many decades to come.

 

Olympics – 1972 – Munich Games – Track & Field – Mens 800m Finals – Featuring USA Dave Wottle – With Curt Gowdy On The Call

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