Touring the bases with Bob Wolff

From SABR member Ted Leavengood at on May 16, 2012:

Bob Wolff is one of the most famous television and radio announcers of the second half of the Twentieth Century. He has been inducted to both the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown and the Basketball Hall of Fame as well. His call of Don Larsen’s World Series Perfect Game in 1956 for Mutual Radio and that of the 1958 NFL Championship Game between the Colts and Giants, are just two of the many landmark sporting events that he has broadcast over the years.

Bob was kind enough to speak to Seamheads about the start of his career in Washington, DC as the first television announcer for the Washington Nationals in 1947, where he continued until 1961 before joining Joe Garagiola at NBC for the Game of the Week in the 1960′s. He is the guest for this Friday’s “Outta the Parkway” show on the Seamheads Podcast Network. Call in to hear the interview live at 347-945-7172 or use the link after the fact to listen to an archived version of the show.

Q. You got your start in Broadcasting at Duke University before coming to Washington, could you tell us what that was like?

Bob Wolff. There were many lucky breaks, but I tried to make them come true. I went to Duke University to become a baseball player, but I broke my ankle down there–my spikes got caught in the dirt–and while I was sidelined the local CBS station asked me to sit in and they would ask me questions about my team mates.  They liked my work and asked me to join their crew. I talked to the Duke baseball coach and told him that I wanted to get to the majors some day and he said, ‘this may be the opportunity.” So I decided to try that. I did basketball games as well and I would get back home from doing the games around midnight; I would study until three in the morning and then get up and go to class around 7:30. But I loved it and that was my start.

World War II brought me to Washington. I was commissioned into the Navy and went out with the Seabees and was stationed in the Solomon Islands as a supply officer. I found that the rules they had taught me were more applicable to a ship than to a station on that island so I wrote my own rules. I put it all in book form with pictures and sent it back to the Navy in Washington. I was very lucky that they decided to publish my book and asked me to fly back to Washington to work in training and that is how I got to Washington.

I decided at the end of the war to go back into broadcasting and I took by application with all the clippings from what I had done with Duke for CBS around to the local news affiliates and I took a job with the Washington Post. Then I heard there was a new television station–WTTG–where they were doing the Washington Senators baseball games. From there I have been getting lucky breaks all along the way.

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Originally published: May 17, 2012. Last Updated: May 17, 2012.