At The Ballyard ... with Steve Weissman

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Hub Fans Bid The Cowboy Adieu

– Appreciating Curt Gowdy on the Occasion of His Passing –

Sportscasting legend Curt Gowdy passed away yesterday at age 86, and even those of us who didn’t grow up listening to him describe the action at Fenway Park took a moment to mark his passing.

Nicknamed “The Cowboy” to honor his Wyoming roots and love of the outdoors, Gowdy spent 15 years at the microphone in Boston before becoming the voice of baseball on the weekly NBC Game of the Week. He also hosted the long-running program American Sportsman on ABC, and he was the one man of his era whose mere presence in the booth signaled the start of a major sporting event.

Gowdy was a generational bridge, having learned his baseball craft at the elbow of the celebrated Mel Allen – who along with Red Barber helped make sports broadcasting the popular phenomenon it is today – and counting among his partners Ned Martin, who called Red Sox games into the 1990s. (Martin was the leader in the booth when current on-air icon Jerry Remy made his debut, so the line of succession continues unbroken.) His home-spun game descriptions thus were the bedtime stories for children for more than 40 years, and his legacy of excellence likely will endure for at least 40 more.

"Everybody quiet now here at Fenway Park after they gave him a standing ovation of two minutes knowing that this is probably his last time at bat. One out, nobody on, last of the eighth inning. Jack Fisher into his windup, here's the pitch. Williams swings and there's a long drive to deep right! The ball is going and it is gone! A home run for Ted Williams in his last time at bat in the major leagues!" – Curt Gowdy’s call of Ted Williams’ last at bat, 28 September 1960.

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