Monday, February 20, 2006

A silent mic for Curt Gowdy

Curt Gowdy died today. The microphone is silent.

Longtime sports fans will remember Gowdy's laid-back, conversational style of broadcasting. He covered a little bit of everything for NBC back in the days before cable TV -- Super Bowls, World Series, the "Heidi" game.

I became familiar with his work years later, when he was hosting an outdoors show for ABC. Tapes surface from time to time of some of his more famous games. The 1975 World Series, that epic seven game battle between the Big Red Machine and the Red Sox, turns up on ESPN Classic from time to time.

Gowdy's style was patterned after the late great Red Barber. Easygoing. Familiar. No cheerleading. Professional.

He was there that September afternoon at Fenway Park when Ted Williams homered in his final at bat. Gowdy called him "the greatest hitter who ever lived."

The sportswriter and the Splinted Splinter became pals after baseball. The duo could often be found pursuing Williams' other great love -- fish.

He would show up from time to time, like an old friend dropping by the house. He made a cameo in the 1988 comedy, "The Naked Gun," playing himself. Gowdy came back to do a game for ESPN in 2003 as part of a special series. He said he thought he could do better. We were just glad to hear that voice again.

So much that was once good about baseball is long gone. The pure pennant race. American League pitchers coming to bat. Harry Caray. And now Curt Gowdy, too, is gone.

I hope he and Williams are somewhere on the water together tonight, wetting a couple of hooks and remembering that last at-bat.


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