The NHL has suffered a tough stretch, losing some of its best announcers ever. Locally, Mike Lange (Penguins), Pat Foley (Blackhawks) retires after the coming season, Rick Peckham (longtime TV voice of the Lightning), Rick Jeanneret (Sabres), hangs it up after the coming season. Chuck Kaiton (Hurricanes) who painted a magnificent picture on radio left a couple years ago. Nationally we’ve lost Mike Emrick and Canadian icon Bob Cole, no longer calling games. I can’t remember any league losing so many star-studded voices in just a few seasons. And you wonder how much longer the Rangers’ Rosen wants to continue. He turned 74 on August 12th.
Among NHL announcers who’ve also done basketball are Mike Emrick (NCAA Tournament on CBS), Kenny Albert (fill in – Knicks and Wizards), John Forslund, the new Seattle announcer, in New England, Alex Faust the Kings’ TV announcer for Fox Sports, Sam Rosen, the Rangers announcer, filled in often in his early career at the Garden, covering Knicks games. There are others too.
Marv Albert, known famously around the country for hoops, was superb at hockey too. He actually started with the Rangers in 1965 before the Knicks in 1967. Trivia question. Who preceded Marv on the Knicks radio broadcasts? How about Don Criqui! (left)
The other day I watched game #7 of the 1965 World Series on YouTube. Game#1 was played on Wednesday October 6th which fell on Yom Kippur, the Jewish High Holiday. Sandy Koufax took the day off with the full support of team owner Walter O’Malley. He pitched the next day, Game #2 and it was Sandy against Jim Kaat. The two of them were pitted against one another three times in that series, Games #2, #5 and #7. It meant three starts for both men in nine days. Pitch counts? What’s that?
On NBC, it was Vin Scully and Ray Scott. In those days, the voices of the two teams split the Series on television. It would be the last year that NBC did so. Curt Gowdy would come along the following season in 1966 and the format was tweaked. Going forward on NBC, the local voices did only the home games on TV with Gowdy and the road games on NBC Radio. So in ’66 when the Orioles swept the Dodgers, Bob Prince was partnered with Scully in Baltimore and the O’s Chuck Thompson in Los Angeles. Later, on radio, NBC’s Jim Simpson teamed up with the local voices.
Anyhow, the decisive Game #7 had Koufax against Kaat. Scott, the baseball and football minimalist, shared an anecdote I hadn’t heard before. Most players worked in the off-season those years to merely make ends meet. As a star pitcher in the mid 1960s, Kaat, who still calls games with Bob Costas on MLB Network, was already spinning records on radio and doing local sports and news too. Jim knew immediately that he wanted to broadcast after his years as a player. Kaat is still sharp at 82.
Koufax was a broadcaster too. Sandy did five All-Star games with Simpson on NBC Radio in the early 1970s. The southpaw attended the University of Cincinnati and was a walk-on for the freshman basketball team. In his Brooklyn high school days, Koufax was best known for his basketball prowess. In the spring of 1954, he made UC’s college baseball varsity team, which was coached by Ed Jucker. In 1961 and 1962, Jucker coached the men’s varsity basketball team, led by Oscar Robertson, to two national championships.
It should be pointed out that the top four pitchers of the ’65 Series, all did broadcast work after hanging up their cleats. Koufax, Drysdale, Kaat and the late Mudcat Grant.
Ted Davis capped his NBA broadcast career with a flourish. The Texan who spent nine years with the Mavs before taking the Bucks job in 1997 has retired. A polished play-by-player, he was Milwaukee’s radio voice for 24 years. At 65, he’s calling it a day after what’s been 33 seasons of traveling the challenging circuit of the NBA. Davis was one of the few who preferred doing games remotely rather than travelling and calling road games live. Earlier, Jim Paschke who voiced the Bucks telecasts for 35 seasons also put away the mic.
Talking of hoops, a Mavericks press release announced that the team’s radio broadcasts “will move from longtime home KESN-FM to KEGL-FM.” I assume that the Mavs’ longtime voice Chuck Cooperstein, a Long Islander, will make the switch too.
I had an opportunity to listen to Bob Wischusen and Marty Lyons on a Jets broadcast. Bob’s excellent. He’s as good on radio as he is on ESPN. But Lyons showed nothing. All he does, is provide stats or repeat what just happened. After a while, I shut it off. It’s not like Wischusen doesn’t try to have Marty open up. I guess Lyons just doesn’t have much material to share, other than what’s on the computer screen. On top of it all, he has an annoyingly thin and scratchy voice.
Tim Neverett, the fine Dodgers’ TV and radio announcer published a book chronicling LA’s 2020 world championship season. You’ve got to love the catchy title, Covid Curveball. Tim’s a good storyteller and thorough, so the book is a good read. Tim covers the Dodgers’ heart throbbing playoff run and how the club dodged its way through covid. Neverett had previously covered the Pirates and Red Sox. The book includes a foreword by ex Dodger star, Orel Hershiser.
Dodgers’ CEO Stan Kasten presented Scully with a 2020 World Series ring. “For 32 years Los Angeles waited for this moment, this team and this ring – and all that it represents,” Kasten said in a statement.
Ted Sobel is a longtime Los Angeles sportscaster who grew up in SoCal. He’s penned an interesting book covering a generation full of stories from the Drysdale-Koufax era to an inside look at the Kobe-Shaq days. In the many tens of trips to LA in my career, I always knew I was in SoCal when I turned on the ignition in my rental career and I’d hear one of four men. If it was summer, Vin voice wafted pleasantly. If it was winter, Chick Hearn’s vaudeville act was entertaining , and at any time of year, I’d hear Ted Sobel doing sports updates on either one of two news stations, KNX or KFWB. (One other gent was the late Bill Keene the Chick Hearn of traffic reports. His unique sound, lingo and style updating traffic and weather were memorable.)
ESPN named Holly Rowe the lead sideline reporter for its college football coverage, filling a vacancy left by Maria Taylor. (Maria, as we know too well, is at NBC.) Rowe, who has been with ESPN full-time since 1998, joins the returning Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit on ESPN’s lead college football team.