Monday, February 20, 2006

Curt Gowdy, R.I.P.

By Mitchell

Curt Gowdy, the legendary sports broadcaster, died today at the age of 86. In talking about Curt Gowdy, I could just as easily reprint the post I did about Chris Schenkel's death last year. Like Schenkel, Gowdy was a big-game announcer: when you heard his voice on the telecast, it made you want to stop and listen.

He had many of those big-game moments over the years: the Heidi Game in 1968, the Jets' Super Bowl win two months later, Ted Williams' final home run, UCLA's reign of terror in the NCAA finals. From pro football to major league baseball to NCAA basketball, an entire generation knew Gowdy as the voice of NBC Sports, and they knew that if NBC was covering a major event, Gowdy would be there. He also worked for many years at ABC, primarily as the voice of The American Sportsman and Wide World of Sports' coverage of the Cheyenne Rodeo.

The CNN obit talks of Gowdy bringing "a warm feel to the broadcast booth, his commentary always full of good humor and enthusiasm." He preferred to refer to "Sudden-Death Overtime" as "Sudden-Victory," focusing on the success of one team rather than the failure of another.

Having grown up in Maine, Judie learned of the talents of Curt Gowdy before many of us did. For it was as the long-time radio voice of the Boston Red Sox that he first made his mark, and that was how Judie (the non-sports fan) always thought of him. Upon hearing the news today, she remarked that it another part of her childhood had died along with him.

You know you're getting old when the voices of your youth begin to die off. Sports was immeasurably richer for the presence of Curt Gowdy in the broadcasting booth; and while we may be poorer for his loss, we were richer for being able to hear him.

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