Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Curt Gowdy

All politics are local; so, too, for many people are baseball announcers. Prior to this era, in which satellite radio and dish networks make it possible to listen to or watch any team at any time, baseball fans were partisans not only of their home teams but of their local announcers as well.

Arguments over who was the better centerfielder, Mays or Mantle, paralleled far less heated debates over who was the better announcer, Mel Allen or Ernie Harwell.

Rarely did we hear the play-by-play voices of other teams unless we could pick up a distant radio signal or were visiting friends and relatives in another baseball town.

In the 1960’s NBC decided to nationally telecast a single game on Saturday afternoons that could be watched by everyone, everywhere. To do the play-by-play they hired Curt Gowdey, then the voice of the Boston Red Sox. He was a fine choice. Born in Wyoming, Gowdy’s accent was impossible to place. He didn't really have a signature call, e.g. "that ball’s outta' here", but he wasn't one of these cookie cutter nobodies occupying too many booths today. He was Everyman. Always fair and impartial, his was a soothing passion for the game rather than histrionics. Along with sidekick Tony Kubek, Gowdy became as much a local figure as our resident announcers, no mean feat. Yesterday, at age 86, Gowdy passed away, silencing one of the few remaining voices of baseball at mid-20th century.


gr said...

local franchise reaction: more wheeler.

Tom Goodman said...

I saw that piece on the new radio and TV lineup. More Wheels on TV, no LA. Looks like I watch with the sound off a lot more this coming season. I like LA and would imagine he isn't too pleased. Perhaps sufficient backlash will persuade the Phils to change their minds.