VETTEL: Gowdy Was an Icon

The passing of Curt Gowdy has made the broadcast booth in heaven a very crowded place. The 86-year-old legend was one of the first true "stars" in the sports broadcasting business. His career spanned more than a half century, but his nationwide fame came from his duties for NBC on baseball, college basketball and pro football.

He was also a generous gentleman, an icon in the broadcasting industry and a role model for people like yours truly.

Curt Gowdy was as balanced a broadcaster as you could hope for. He had a voice you would recognize immediately. His knowledge of the subject matter was unmatched and he never seemed to take sides. Every Saturday he would handle the baseball game of the week, usually with Tony Kubek. He was the voice of the American Football League when the fledgling group forced a merger with the all-powerful NFL.

He was also the first star to go from the Yankees to the Red Sox, leaving the broadcast booth in the Bronx for a spot behind the plate in Fenway Park.

For many years Gowdy brought his love of the outdoors to the masses in the program "The American Sportsman".

Nobody Did it Better

Curt Gowdy was brilliant at building up to the great moment. He was a master of setting the scene; yet Curt Gowdy always had the discipline needed to remain quiet while the emotions poured out from the participants.

I remember him calling the most significant game in pro football history, Super Bowl III when Joe Namath and the New York Jets shocked the Baltimore Colts and lent credibility to the AFL as the merger began to take place. I remember his understated call of Carlton Fisk's winning homer in game six of the 1975 World Series.

To me, baseball was the greatest game of all and Gowdy was the narrator. His style is probably best described by Gowdy himself, "I tried to pretend that I was sitting in the stands with a buddy watching the game and poking him in the ribs when something exciting happened", Gowdy once said. "I never took myself too seriously."

A True Class Act

Curt Gowdy is enshrined in Cooperstown as well as the American Sportscasters Hall of Fame. You really cannot find someone who didn't like the man and respect his remarkable talent. I had the honor of meeting him twice including once in Lake City when he served as emcee for the induction ceremonies for the Florida Sports Hall of Fame. He was warm and gracious. Even though his resume' far exceeded those inductees that night, he made certain that they were the stars of the evening, not him.

I had several long visits with the incomparable Red Barber prior to his passing and a view them as some of the greatest times of my professional life. He was the classiest, most professional sportscaster of all time. Curt Gowdy is in that class. Vin Scully is in that class. Perhaps no one else.

God speed Curt. Thanks for the memories you helped make and the example you always set.

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