July 21, 2019

Remembering Curt Gowdy

March 24, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

He was a born storyteller–the “guy next door” who happened to become the first legitimate superstar of sports television. When legendary broadcaster Curt Gowdy passed away a few years back, it truly signifid the end of an era; colleague Dick Enberg accurately referred to him as “the last of the dinosaurs”–-a man who will be remembered as nothing less than a true master of his craft.

I literally grew up listening to Curt Gowdy; hell, he was basically my personal introduction to baseball as the voice of NBC’s “Game of the Week” in the mid-to-late ‘60s–when I first became enamored with the American pastime. Sure, I’d also be glued to the TV when Gowdy would do AFL games and Super Bowls at that time, but it was the way he called a baseball game that always stuck with me. His distinctive, effortless delivery–albeit with a growl-like tone in his voice–made many of us feel like baseball was the only game in the world for those two-and-a-half hours; all was well in the universe when Curt Gowdy graced our living rooms/television sets. No catchy phrases, no self-promotion, no “selling-out” marketing-wise for Mr. Gowdy–just a straightforward description of the game we all adored, lived, and breathed. He’d always be more than comfortable leaving the in-depth analysis and playful aspects of the telecast to his capable partners Tony Kubek and Joe Garagiola, respectively. But Curt WAS the genuine star of the trio, hands down; he just never realized that at the time–and neither did we. To this day, I consider that broadcast team to be perhaps the best one ever assembled–one headed by the great Curt Gowdy. You see, it was ALL about the game to those guys–and Curt would have it no other way.

The “Cowboy With The Mike” hosted the popular “American Sportsman” show for 15 years; yes, Mr. Gowdy always DID feel most at peace with himself decked out in Western garb while fly fishing in his native Wyoming. I remember turning on that show frequently (although I knew as much about fishing at the time as I did about DNA sampling)–for no other reason than to simply to hear the comforting, fatherly voice of one Curt Gowdy. It really didn’t matter back in those days that I would have rather seen men catching fly balls instead of Western Trout during the long winter months; when I heard Gowdy’s unique baritone voice, I knew that baseball season was never really that far off in the distance. Bottom line? When you were tuned to an event that Curt Gowdy was covering, you were locked into SPORTS that afternoon or evening–and very little else.

The adoration from colleagues has truly been bountiful/continual since Curt Gowdy’s death from leukemia . Rules consultant/baseball writer Rich Marazzi offered the following words about a man whose immense modesty became more and more evident even as his legend grew over the years: “Gowdy was never ‘the show.’ He simply REPORTED the game–regardless of which sport he was covering. I don’t think he ever had a signature call in baseball. He was just a great talent.” ESPN’s Chris Berman–also a great admirer of Gowdy’s–uttered the following statement during a recent interview with Joe Benigno on WFAN Radio: “As great an announcer as he was, he was a BETTER person.” Finally, the aforementioned Benigno described on his show what I believe to be Gowdy’s most admirable quality–one that always separated him from his fellow sportscasters: “As far as announcing is concerned, even if it wasn’t considered a ‘big’ game, Curt Gowdy always made it SEEM like it was a ‘big’ game.” Yes, whether he was in a 20-foot fishing boat or a cramped broadcast cubicle, Mr. Gowdy had that elusive ability to “grab” us and–like the many fish reeled in during his lifetime–he seldom let go.

Curt Gowdy’s career highlights are too numerous to mention here, but covering World Series, All-Star Games, Super Bowls, etc. all attest to the man’s unmatched versatility. Indeed, he was the original “American Sportsman” to many of us during our formative years. Ironically, construction workers took time out from their workday in Boston following his death to put hard hats over their hearts while Gowdy’s funeral procession passed Fenway Park–where Curt once broadcast Red Sox games. Yes, I guess he always WAS the common guy’s broadcaster.

Thanks, Mr. Gowdy.

Bob Lazzari is an award-winning sports columnist for both Connecticut’s Valley Times and NY Sports Day, where his “Sports Roundup” column is featured weekly. He is a member of the Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance and host of “Monday Night Sports Talk,” a cable television show on CTV/Channel 14 in Connecticut.

Comments

2 Responses to “Remembering Curt Gowdy”
  1. Ron says:

    Curt Gowdy brought a “big game” credibility to baseball broadcasts. No trivial chit-chat, the game was the thing. Good to read this.

  2. Rich Kenney says:

    I grew up listening to Curt broadcast the Boston Red Sox games in the late 50s. I’ll always remember his friendly voice. I also remember the Red Sox sponsor back then was Narraganset Beer. Curt would read the short advertising script and end it by saying, “Hi neighbor, have a ‘ganset.”

    Great voice, great guy!

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