Halby’s Morsels; TV vs Radio; When the networks ruled; Eric Nadel; Gowdy and Scully; Bill Russell

  • There’s video coverage of sports for just about every event today. Radio play-by-players paint games and matches more colorfully. TVers are generally more analytical. Announcers determine their level based on style and fashion? As long as they’re distinct and crisp viewers won’t complain.
  • The Baseball Giants and Pirates shift talent through both radio to TV. In New York, the Mets’ trio of Gary Cohen, 65, is on TV play-by-play and Keith Hernandez, 69, and Ron Darling, 63 are assigned color. They make up a mix. The three men in the booth are current and not afraid to talk their minds. So be it.
  • The 1965 World Series, was the last not infringed upon by their own network voices. Vin Scully represented the Dodgers and Ray Scott the Twins. Scott is considered a network football minimalist for his years as the voice of the NFL on CBS. Vince Lombardi ran the Packers. The Series was on NBC. That Classic the personalities were Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Jim Kaat. The Dodgers won in seven duels after losing the first two in Minnesota. Yom Kippur was a big deal that Fall. Koufax refused to pitch then and he didn’t. Owner Walter O’Malley had Sandy’s back. 
  • In 1966, Curt Gowdy was assigned the lead voice for NBC’s World Series and held the post through 1974. Joe Garagiola knew whom to work in the decision-making process, from sponsors like Chrysler to the the key network’s execs. By the ’75 riveting Classic, Cincy-Red Sox, Garagiola and Gowdy represented NBC.  The teams’ announcers plunged into the booth as well. There were three. Marty Brennaman of the Reds and Dick Stockton and Ned Martin of the Red Sox shared the time allocated to the local clubs. Stockton had the luck to call the big Carlton Fisk game-ending homer, sending the Series to a game seven.
  • It’s wonderful to have Eric Nadel, 72, back in the Texas booth. He’s happy to be there mentally refreshed. It took great guts by him to admit his issue. He told a TV interviewer in Texas that the disease runs in the family. The last time he was struck by the disease was some twenty years ago and Eric kept it quiet. This time he revealed it. Before the start of this regular season last March, he stepped away and expressed why. Eric is pleasant, easygoing and very well liked. He is a truly dedicated baseball man too.
  • Before August ends, let’s do one last one-year remembrance of the death of two giants, Vin Scully and Bill Russell. They passed just two days apart, Scully on August 2, 2022 at 94 and Russell, the dominant NBA big man at 88 on July 31, 2022. Big Bill also worked NBA broadcasts with Keith Jackson on ABC. Most importantly, Russell fought racism, particularly in the 50s and 60s. There were restaurants then    from which he and many other Black athletes were banned, especially St. Louis.
  • Up in the New York area over this past weekend, I listened to John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman on the Yankees broadcasts. I did so to gauge how the couple handled this awful Yankees’ stretch. Coming off the Kevin Brown TV episode in Baltimore, where the announcer spelled out the weak performance of the O’s in previous seasons against the Rays. Brown was dramatically and definitively demonstrating how the O’s have completely turned it around. Facts are facts and what he shared was Baltimore’s 2023 sparkling improvement. It was totally confused by the club executives.

From the Media

Heard this from a prominent sports broadcast executive, “I worked with many of the folks who are now unemployed. A result few if any have discussed, is when a company lays off veteran performers on or off camera, people who have made a difference and been promoted over the years as a result, what is the incentive for young employees to excel and do the kind of work that will win them promotions?  If the payoff is a pink slip, would you bust your butt?

“That has to hurt innovation, productivity, and the employee retention rate.”


David J. Halberstam

David is a 40-year + industry veteran who served as play-by-play announcer for St. John's University basketball in New York and as radio play-by-play voice of the Miami Heat in South Florida. He is the author of Sports on New York Radio: A Play-by-Play History and The Fundamentals of Sports Media and Sponsorship Sales: Developing New Accounts.

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