Growing older on the field or in the broadcast booth, maintaining accuracy, discipline and efficiency:
George Blanda was born in 1927. Between 1949 and 1975, he played in the NFL and later in the AFL for various clubs . I remember him as a kicker in his nine final years. He capped them in Oakland with the Raiders. It was the matchup between the Jets and Raiders in the memorable Heidi Game in 1968.
Blanda was coached by John Rauch. The team’s radio play-by-player was called by the riveting Bill King.
The Jets were coached by Weeb Ewbank and its play-by-play voice was Merle Harmon. Sam DeLuca, a true teacher of the the game was his club’s partner. Broadcasters around America were always students and hoped to pick up tips listening to these two giants.
While these folks aged and remained on air, it was beautiful music for fans. It was an opportunity to dial into the best at work.
THE MEMORABLE AT WORK, LISTEN AND LEARN
NBA – Hubie Brown– turned 90 in September. Teacher, Coach, Broadcaster and dedicated to the game. Perhaps most respected, youthful and cogent. He’s still as sharp as a tack. Brown never gropes for a player’s name and can still diagnose and anticipate the essence of every play. A fighter to the very end. Focuses amazingly and instantly, often better than his play-by-player,
NFL – Merrill Reese – He’s 81 and started as a color man in Philadelphia which then was not much more than a play-by-player’s assistant. A couple years later, in December of 1977, he was elevated to the top man in the booth when play-by-player, Charlie Swift committed suicide shocking the football broadcast world. Merrill was promoted immediately to the top job by happenstance. Given Swift’s death, later the passing of popular figures like Harry Kalas, Andy Musser and Bill Campbell, Reese became the most beloved play-by-play figure in town. His contribution calling Eagles football with heart for 47 years earned him the love of Philly fans.
NBA – Al McCoy retired in Phoenix at age 90 at the end of last season. He and most other radio voices were calling games upstairs. Hot Rod Hundley was one, and he worked together with McCoy and Hearn too for a while. Hot Rod was an average NBAer on the court. Funny and knowledgeable. Hundley finished his six-year professional career at age 28 in 1963 due to bad knees.
Hundley had moved to the broadcast booth, working four seasons for the Suns and more with the Lakers. In the early 1970s, he also teamed with Dick Enberg to call syndicated college basketball for TVS.
In 1974, Hundley became the first radio and television voice of the expansion New Orleans Jazz. He followed them to Salt Lake City in 1979, where he became a celebrated broadcaster on TV and Radio. Hot Rod was known for his rapid-fire style and expressions like “from the parking lot.” He died at age 80 in 2015. He had picked up his unique simulcast from Chick Hearn.
USTA – Cliff Drysdale 82, a South African tennis player is on ESPN calling Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and others. He played in the era of Rod Laver, John Newcombe, Roy Emerson and Fred Stolle.
Dave Logan – is the voice of a distinct breed. He’s from Colorado and played high-school and college ball there. Logan played for the Cleveland Browns (1976–83) and finished off with his hometown Broncos (1984). He spent eight seasons in Cleveland and then his very last in Denver. He became a versatile and opinionated play-by-player. How good is he on NFL local radio? When he was 65, his employer, KOA Radio, gave him a ten year renewal.
The best five-ever Denver sportscasters are in my humble opinion are Dave Logan, Larry Zimmer, Jack Corrigan, Al Albert and Bob Martin. Particularly judging based on ‘time in grade.’ Dave is from Wheat Ridge – near the edge of downtown. He had little play-by-play experience. Yet absorbing his knowledge was fun. Logan doesn’t have the perfected intonations. Still, he’s like your friend at the game. He maintains his equanimity and emotes when necessary. A very unique style.