America’s most versatile sportscaster and
The American Sportsman, Dies at 86
Curt Gowdy, who over a span of seven decades brought a warmth and smooth delivery to his radio, TV and cable sportscasts and was known to millions of fishermen and hunters as The American Sportsman, died at 3:10 a.m. Monday, February 20 at the age of 86.
Gowdy passed away at his winter home in Palm Beach, Fla., surrounded by his immediate family. Since 1951 he lived in the Boston Mass., area, first in the suburb of Wellesley Hills, then the city of Boston and also retained a summer residence in Sugar Hill, N.H.
The cause of death was acute leukemia.
A pioneer of radio sportscasting in the 1940s and TV in the early 1950s, Gowdy was the most prolific and versatile national sportscaster of the 1960s and 1970s. Working for four major networks, he enjoyed a wide fan base, critical acclaim and the respect of his peers for his in-depth preparation.
Born and raised in Wyoming, the “cowboy at the mike,” reported the action in a distinctively warm, articulate and relaxing manner. On the air, he diligently strived for a blend of accuracy, pacing and balance.
Of his first sports love, he said, “Baseball unfolds like a story, providing drama, character revelation, and surprise; and there is always time for the reporter to enrich the moment with color, narrative and anecdote.” As host and producer of the long-running The American Sportsman television series, ubiquitous with a Stetson hat and casting a dry fly, he garnered a public following that endured for the rest of life; many referring to him as the “true American sportsman.” Because of his versatility with a wide range of sports he was also described as the “voice of all seasons.”
Man of many talents…and many honors including 20 Halls of Fame
Although in sports the words “Legend” and “Hall of Fame” usually refer to those who have earned their reputations on the field, they are used quite accurately to describe the man behind the microphone and fly rod. His demanding schedule called upon to cover more major sports events than anyone in broadcasting history. It included coverage of an astounding 16 World Series, 12 Rose Bowls, nine Super Bowls, 16 MLB All-Star Games, eight Olympic Games and 24 NCAA Final Fours of collegiate basketball.
Gowdy is probably the only man who has been inducted into a total of 20 Halls of Fame comprising sports, broadcasting, conservation and fishing including the most recent, the 2006 Rose Bowl in early January. Gowdy’s other Hall of Fame inductions include The National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame in 1981, the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984, The American Sportscasters Hall of Fame in 1985, The American Football League Hall of Fame in 1995 and The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) Fishing Hall of Fame in 2003 to name a few.
He is also the man for whom the Basketball Hall of Fame’s two prestigious broadcasting and print awards were named for in 1990, presented annually to the top basketball journalists and sportscasters. He also served as its president for seven years.
Gowdy is the first individual sports figure to ever win the coveted Peabody Award for Outstanding Journalistic Achievement. He has also received 13 Emmys, six of them for ABC TV’s The American Sportsman, which he hosted from its inception for over 20 years. He was presented with the Gold Medal Hall of Fame Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in New England for career contributions to the industry. In March, 1990, Gowdy received the first Museum of Broadcasting’s (now Museum of Television and Radio) Hall of Fame Award for outstanding achievements and contributions to the field of broadcasting and in April, 1992, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences presented him with a special Emmy, the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Pete Johnson, Media Communications
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Last modified: February 21, 2006