Cannon himself later said the call was as exciting as the play, which is quite a statement since he secured the 1959 Heisman Trophy with the stunning return.
"I used to kid him about it,'' Cannon said, "that, hearing it, it was hard to believe the excitement of his call – even years later.''
Without question, as long as LSU plays football, Politz' voice, the usual staccato delivery becoming increasingly roused, will be the soundtrack of Cannon's heroics in the No. 1-ranked Tigers' 7-3 victory over No. 3-ranked Ole Miss, which extended their victory streak to 19.
In that legendary call, keeping his intonations above the crescendo of the crowd, Politz' description went: "Billy Cannon watches it bounce. He takes it on his own 11. He comes back upfield to the 15, stumbles momentarily. . . he's at the 20. . . running hard at the 25! Gets away from one man at the 30. He's at the 35. . . He's at the 50, he's at the 45, 40!''
A classic miscue occurred at this point as a sound technician tried to lower the crowd microphone while heightening Politz' and ended up reversing the tasks. The roar from the crowd drowned out the broadcast until near the play's end. "He's at the 5! He scores . . . Listen to the cheers as Billy Cannon comes off the field. . . . Great All-American!''
It was one of the sport's most memorable moments, and – though it would hurl him to broadcasting's major leagues – the career highlight for Politz, who died last week at age 81.
He loved LSU, and he loved broadcasting Tiger games. But it wasn't completely a happy experience.
At LSU at least, every silver lining must have a dark cloud.
The Southern icon spotted the Jaguars' new play-by-play announcer and made a point of going over to the table, set high in the stands where Politz sat. "Son,'' Mumford said, "I like your style.''
So did station owner Ralph "Pappy'' Burge, and in 1957 when WAIL won the rights to LSU football over longtime Tiger carrier WJBO, he wanted Politz as the Tigers' play-by-play man – a dream job for the young broadcaster. But LSU athletic director Jim Corbett wanted John Ferguson to do the games. When Burge insisted on his own choice, an arms-length relationship ensued.
"The players and coaches were great to me,'' Politz said four years ago, just before his retirement. "But I don't think anyone in the administration – and Corbett and I were friends before that – ever spoke to me (afterward).''
Not even after Cannon's run and it's equally exciting play-by-play? "Never,'' Politz said.
"I think Corbett thought
In an ironic coincidence, just
Probably because of Politz' call of Cannon's run, which was heard on 109 stations, including three 50,000-watt flame-throwers (WWL in New Orleans, KWKH in Shreveport, and KMOX in St. Louis), Politz was voted the nation's best football announcer in 1959.
After that season, though, WJBO won
back its rights to LSU football, and
Three years into his
Politz spent the next 30 years
He finished up where he started, at Southern where he felt most comfortable – and appreciated.
"I know, though,'' he said in 2002, "every time they replay Billy Cannon's run – and that will be for years and years – that someone might remember me.''
Marty Mule' can be reached at MJM981@bellsouth.net.