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February 21, 2006

Sportscaster Curt Gowdy Dies

Longtime NBC Fixture was 86

Fort Myers, FL – Curt Gowdy, one of the most enduring and versatile sports announcers in broadcasting history, died Monday after a long battle with leukemia. He was 86.

Gowdy, who got his start in radio, began his career in 1944 in his native Wyoming, standing on a crate calling six-man football games in frigid weather. He then worked in Oklahoma before moving to New York City in 1949, where he joined legendary announcer Mel Allen to cover the New York Yankees.

Two years later he fulfilled his dream of becoming the lead announcer of a major league baseball team when he was hired as the voice of the Boston Red Sox. He left Boston in 1966 when he joined NBC television’s baseball “Game of the Week,” a post he held for 10 years.

In addition to baseball, Gowdy covered football, basketball and the Olympics, and was also the host of the long-running ABC series American Sportsman, which was devoted to such outdoor pursuits as hunting and fishing, both of which Gowdy, whose father was once the leading fly fisherman in Wyoming, enjoyed in his free time.

Highlights of Gowdy’s illustrious career include coverage of the first seven Super Bowls, 12 Rose Bowls, 24 NCAA basketball championships, 13 World Series and 16 All-Star games.

One of his fondest baseball memories was calling the last game of his good friend, Red Sox superstar Ted Williams, who capped his career on Sept. 28, 1960, with a home run in his final at-bat.

He was also in the announcer’s booth during the infamous 1968 NFL game in which the Oakland Raiders defeated the New York Jets by scoring two touchdowns in the final minute—a feat television audiences missed because NBC cut out of the game early to fulfill a contractual obligation to air the Shirley Temple movie Heidi.

Gowdy, who was named National Sportscaster of the Year three times, was the first sports announcer to receive a George Foster Peabody Award. His numerous other accolades include a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 1992 Sports Emmy Awards.

He was inducted into the broadcast wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984 and into the American Sportscaster's Hall of Fame in 1985. The Curt Gowdy State Park was established in Wyoming in 1971.

Gowdy is survived by his wife, Jerre, three children and five grandchildren.

Click here to see the Archive of American Television's interview with Curt Gowdy, conducted on May 19, 2000, and now available on Google Video at:

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