Rembering superb sports broadcasters
So said General Douglas MacArthur after he was relieved of his command (fired) by President Harry Truman because the two had differing opinions on how to pursue the “police action” in Korea.
So the man immortalized in song as “Fighting Doug MacArthur” came home, testified before Congress and the ditty was amended to “Old soldiers never die, they just testify.”
All of which has nothing to do with what I am about to tell you. It is a shameless takeoff on the original song, which is (in my words), “Old sportscasters never die, they just...”
They just do whatever it is that they do. They either fade away, or live forever in the memories of their loyal followers.
I have had more than enough to say recently about announcers on the Cleveland sporting scene, particularly those reporting on the doings of the Indians and the Browns, but I keep getting mail from readers asking why I didn’t mention so and so.
So today I will make one last desperate attempt to mention the other so and sos.
But first I would like to take note of a nice letter I got from Matt Underwood, one of the two superb broadcasters who bring us commentary on televised Indians game.
His partner, of course, is Rick Manning. But you already knew that.
Matt had some very nice things to say about that previous column. So naturally I will reciprocate by saying something additionally about him and Rick.
Here goes: They are both very competent sportscasters as well as being exceptionally nice guys. And well dressed. And they are far superior to all the other guys who broadcast both baseball and football.
I cannot address the subject of basketball because I do not watch basketball. The reason is simple. I do not understand basketball. It is too complicated for me.
When you think of something as basic as grown men bouncing a ball on a wooden floor and then tossing it up, hoping it goes through a hoop, I think to myself: “Self, I must be missing something here. People would not pay to watch anything so simple as a playground game engaged in by exceptionally tall people the only point of which is to bounce a ball on the floor (or the ground) and toss it through a hoop. How is this different from bean bag toss? What is it that I am missing?”
So I have decided to forget about basketball and concentrate on baseball and football, because I understand both of those games. So let’s move on.
Much has been written in the past few days about the horrific East Ohio Gas fire in a respectable, nice Slovenian neighborhood on Cleveland’s East Side that killed so many people and burned to the ground so many homes.
What does that have to do with football? you ask. Just this. The fire was the night Willoughby Union High School played Wickliffe in football at Lincoln School field in Willoughby.
As we looked to the west, we could see the flames lighting up the entire skyline. It maybe a point of reference that would not occur to anyone else, but for me it is a searing memory of a tragic event that changed the lives of so many fine people and devastated such a large portion of a nicely manicured neighborhood.
Do you know where you were that night in 1944? I know where I was, and I will never forget it.
But I digress.
Larry Reichard of North Perry Village wanted to know why I didn’t mention Jimmy Dudley in any of my previous columns about sports announcers. Well, I should have. And Bob Neal, too. They shared the same microphone, but they hated each other and didn’t speak for many years.
Larry also said his daughter and her husband bought a 1962 Corvette that was once owned by a member of the Neal family.
This I do know, Larry. If that car was owned by Bob Neal, he never gave Jimmy Dudley a ride home in it, even if it was pouring down rain.
Which brings us to Bud Boylan (Shaw, Class of 1945) and Ray Skopar (Collinwood, Class of 1946).
(I am beginning to run out of space. I will have to make this a brief, as they say in law school.)
Both Bud and Ray have fond memories of those old time radio broadcasts, especially the ones that arrived on Western Union ticker tape, which were recreated by Jack Graney and Pinkey Hunter.
When Graney would say, “It’s a hot shot, through the box, out over second base for a single,” one of them would yell, “Foul Ball.”
I think it was Ray. But I am not certain, because I wasn’t there.
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