Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Back in the 1960s, Curt Gowdy owned Saturday afternoons in the O'Brien household. (And if it wasn't Gowdy, it was Gadabout Gaddis.) For my Dad, 'The American Sportsman' was his show, but we all enjoyed the vicarious thrill of the hunts and the fishing trips with Mr. Gowdy and his companions.

(One of the last ones I remember was a fishing trip with Jonathan Winters. I think even the fish were laughing so hard they never went for the hook.)

And if it wasn't 'The American Sportsman' on the tube, than it was Curt Gowdy's voice on the radio as he called the Red Sox games.

Mr. Gowdy was at home covering all the major sports events; something that would be unheard of today with sportscasters specializing in their own little niche, and networks holding broadcast rights monopolies on the various sports. He worked for all three major television networks, covering football, baseball, basketball, and the Olympics.

Notable among these were 13 World Series, 16 MLB All-Star games, 12 Rose Bowls, the first Super Bowl, and the infamous "Heidi" game.

For ten years he was host of baseball's 'Game of the Week' on NBC, and for fifteen years host and producer of the 'American Sportsman' on ABC, for which he won six Emmys. He was also awarded a Peabody in 1970, the first sportscaster to receive that honor.

And because of his roots in Wyoming, (Gowdy was born in Green River and began broadcasting on KFBC in 1944.), a state park was named after him in Cheyenne.

A spokeswoman for the Boston Red Sox says Gowdy, who was 86, died in Palm Beach, Florida after a battle with leukemia.

Gowdy was the long time "Voice of the Red Sox," although he was also the voice of the Yankes from 1959 to 1951. He left the Red Sox in 1966 for a ten-year stint as 'Game of the Week' announcer for NBC.

Among his notable achievements:

Was the only play-by-play broadcaster to cover American Football League (AFL) games on both ABC & NBC during its 10-year existence.

Recipient of the Pete Rozelle Award (which rewards exceptional longtime contributions to radio and TV in pro football) in 1993.

Recipient of the Ford Frick Award (presented annually to a broadcaster for "major contributions to baseball") in 1984.

Recipient of the National Basketball Hall of Fame's John Bunn Award in 1978.

Recipient of the Curt Gowdy Award (awarded to members of the electronic and print media for outstanding contributions to basketball) in 1990.

Besides his "reality" progarmming credits (which also included hosting 'The Way It Was' in 1974), Mr. Gowdy cemented his standing in the fictional reality of Toobworld with an appearance as himself on 'Banacek'.

That episode was "Let's Hear It For A Living Legend" in 1972. And that's what Curt Gowdy was.


1 comment:

Bill OB said...

I agree, his American Sportsman tenure was what I remember best about him, although I know I heard his voice cackling out of the garage at the lake amid the smell of old Black Label beers in a brown bottle on summer afternoons when the Sox were playing...

Mmmmmm..... Black Label....