Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Curt Gowdy

Before I forget, a tip of the virtual hat to Curt Gowdy. For most of my childhood, he was the unmistakable voice of Major League Baseball’s Game of the Week and the American Football Conference/League.

For those under thirty, NBC used to have the rights to MLB for the WHOLE FREAKIN’ COUNTRY! This was pre-ESPN, pre-SuperStations, pre-FoxSportsNetBungholesville These peacockian programming geniuses decided that ONE game per week was all that the collective baseball fans across the continent needed to get their horsehide fix. So every Saturday around 10am, Curt Gowdy and Tony Kubek would team up behind the microphone for the GOTW. The game was usually the Giants-Dodgers-Cardinals in the NL or the Tigers-Orioles-Red Sox-Yankees in the AL, and it was always followed by TWIB (This Week in Baseball, you young punks). And that was it. No regional telecasts, no 160-games in hi-def, no Baseball Tonight. That three-hour chunk was it for baseball fans. So we watched. And he told us about Brooks Robinson and Bob Gibson, Mickey Lolich and Ron Cey, and never wasted time talking about their dinner last night or the latest scandal.

Same with football. Curt Gowdy and Al DeRogatis (remember him?) handled the NBC game, typically the AFC/AFL game of highest significance. None of this Primetime shit, no pre-game show with six talking heads, no regional blackouts. NBC had the AFC game (singular), CBS had the NFC game (singular), ABC had Monday night. Three games total. If you watched MNF for the halftime highlights, you might be blessed by a play or two from your home team, but if they weren’t on NBC/CBS the day before, you were screwed. No highlight shows, no Chris Berman (bitch all you want, but before Primetime, there was NO way to get comprehensive highlights), no television for your team unless they were a playoff contender or from New York. So we were captivated by Lamonica and Namath, Unitas and Csonka.

And Curt Gowdy led us through the dark times. I can still hear him call Reggie’s All-Star game homer off of Dock L-S-D. I can still hear him call Kenny Stabler throwing the ball to Clarence Davis while falling down. Hell, I can still remember “The American Sportsman” where he would take athletes and celebrities on hunting and fishing trips.

Now, we’re inundated by screaming maniacs begging for attention or ex-jocks trying to pontificate. Even Al Michaels seems jaded. Oh, whatever happened to the simple play-by-play announcer who just reported what was happening on the field?


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