Bob Elson

Robert A. Elson (March 22, 1904 – March 10, 1981[1]) was a pioneering American sportscaster.

Bob Elson
Bob Elson circa 1940s
BornMarch 22, 1904
DiedMarch 10, 1981 (aged 76)
OccupationBroadcaster
Known forBroadcasts of Chicago White Sox baseball games

Early life and career

Born in Chicago, Elson got into broadcasting by accident. While vacationing in St. Louis in 1928, he took a tour of radio station KWK. A receptionist saw him among 40 men in line for an audition, and thought he was going to audition as well. He became a finalist, and was hired after a vote by listeners. A few days later, officials at Chicago's WGN heard about Elson's victory and wondered what a Chicago native was doing broadcasting for a St. Louis station. They quickly hired him. Starting in 1929, he began calling all the home games of the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox. Such double duty would be impossible today, but in those days the Cubs and White Sox almost never played at home on the same day. They, like most teams, "recreated" road games in the studio using telegraphed messages from the ballpark rather than sending out their broadcasting crew with the team for road play-by-play, to save money. In 1930, he called his first World Series for the Mutual Broadcasting System, the first of 12 in a row. He also called Chicago Bears football games in the 1930s and early 1940s.

An article in the December 1940 issue of Radio and Television Mirror called Elson the top football announcer for Mutual.[2]

In 1942, he enlisted in the United States Navy and served four years in World War II—a stint which earned him the nickname "The Ol' Commander." But none other than President and Commander-in-Chief Franklin D. Roosevelt himself had him called home to announce the 1943 World Series.

Also, when Major League Baseball began making annual films of the World Series in 1943, Elson was chosen to narrate them, and narrated the official World Series film from 1943 through 1948.

Broadcasting for the White Sox exclusively

From 1946 to 1970, Elson broadcast for the White Sox exclusively. He missed out on calling the 1959 World Series—the Chisox' first since 1919 and Elson's first since 1943—on the national NBC broadcast because NBC Sports president Tom Gallery (who'd grown up with him in Chicago) didn't like him. He was, however, allowed to call the Series on the White Sox' flagship radio station, WCFL.[3] He called games for the Oakland Athletics in 1971[4] before returning to Chicago, where he teamed with Lloyd Pettit on Chicago Black Hawks NHL broadcasts. (He had previously called Black Hawks games in the late 1930s.)

Elson's broadcasting style

His style was often described as "relaxed", not easily succumbing to emotion or hyperbole. However, he left enough room to get emotional while describing dramatic plays favorable to the home team. He was one of the leading play-by-play men in his heyday. He was one of the first broadcasters to do on-field interviews, but in later years he felt uncomfortable with announcers who frequently criticized on-field performances, having grown up in an era where sportscasters were regular drinking buddies of players and managers.[3]

His style inspired several other broadcasters who grew up in the Midwest, such as the Cubs' Jack Brickhouse, Earl Gillespie, Bert Wilson, Gene Elston, his Chisox partner Milo Hamilton, the Phillies' Harry Kalas, the Brewers' Bob Uecker, Harry Caray of the Cardinals and later the Cubs, and the Mariners' Dave Niehaus.

Elson received the Ford C. Frick Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979.

Non-sports broadcasting

Elson's broadcasting achievements went beyond sports. His broadcasts from Chicago's Pump Room brought him recognition "as the interviewer who drew secrets from celebrities in all fields."[1] For five years, he also did Bob Elson on Board the Century, which (in contrast to the title) he broadcast from LaSalle Street Station in Chicago. Elson caught celebrities for spontaneous interviews while they were in the station.[5] In a similar vein, he did Bob Elson on the Flagships on KNX, interviewing people who were traveling on American Airlines.[6]

Elson was co-host of An Hour With Elson and Anson, a daily variety program that began October 13, 1941, on WGN.[7]

Family

Elson had a wife, Jeanne, who died in 1975.[8] He was survived by a son and two daughters.[4]

References

  1. ^ a b Condon, David (March 11, 1981). "Ex-Sox, Cubs Broadcaster Elson dies at 76". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  2. ^ "Saturday's Highlights" (PDF). Radio and Television Mirror. 15 (2): 46. December 1940. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
  3. ^ a b Smith, Curt (2005). Voices of Summer. New York City: Carroll & Graf. ISBN 0-7867-1446-8.
  4. ^ a b "Bob Elson Is Dead at 76; A Baseball Broadcaster". New York Times. March 12, 1981. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  5. ^ Dunning, John. (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3. P. 104.
  6. ^ "Bob Elson" (PDF). Radio Life. February 2, 1947. p. 41. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
  7. ^ "Radio Advertisers" (PDF). Broadcasting. October 20, 1941. p. 47. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  8. ^ Gold, Aaron (June 13, 1975). "Tower Ticker". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 14 January 2015.

External links

1928 Chicago White Sox season

The 1928 Chicago White Sox season was a season in Major League Baseball. The team finished fifth in the American League, 29 games behind the pennant-winning New York Yankees.

1929 Chicago White Sox season

The 1929 Chicago White Sox season was the White Sox's 29th season in the major leagues and its 30th season overall. They finished with a record 59–93, good enough for seventh place in the American League, 46 games behind the first place Philadelphia Athletics.

1930 Chicago White Sox season

The 1930 Chicago White Sox season was the team's 30th season in the major leagues, and its 31st season overall. They finished with a record 62–92, good enough for 6th place in the American League, 40 games behind the 1st place Philadelphia Athletics.

1931 Chicago White Sox season

The 1931 Chicago White Sox season was the team's 31st season in the major leagues, and its 32nd season overall. They finished with a record 56–97, good enough for 8th place in the American League, 51.5 games behind the first place Philadelphia Athletics.

1937 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

The 1937 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the fifth playing of the mid-summer classic between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was held on July 7, 1937, at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C., the home of the Washington Senators of the American League. The game resulted in the American League defeating the National League 8–3.

The game, watched by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, is remembered because of a play in which Earl Averill of the Indians hit a ball that struck pitcher Dizzy Dean on the toe, breaking it. Complications of this injury shortened the career of the future Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher.

1940 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

The 1940 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the eighth playing of the mid-summer classic between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was held on July 9, 1940, at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis, Missouri, the home of the St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Browns. The game resulted in the National League defeating the American League 4–0.

1942 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

The 1942 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the tenth playing of the midsummer classic between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was held on July 6, 1942, at Polo Grounds in New York City the home of the New York Giants of the National League. The game resulted in the American League defeating the National League 3–1. While the game had been scheduled for a twilight start at 6:30 p.m. EWT, rain delayed the first pitch for an hour, leading to the first All-Star contest played entirely under the lights; the two-hour, seven-minute game ended just ahead of a 9:30 p.m. blackout curfew in New York.Two nights later, the American League All-Stars traveled to Cleveland Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio, to play a special benefit game against a team of players from the U.S. Army and Navy. The contest, which the American Leaguers won 5–0, attracted a crowd of 62,094 and netted $70,000 for the Army Emergency Relief Fund and the Navy Relief Society. Mutual Radio broadcast the second game, with Bob Elson, Waite Hoyt, and Jack Graney announcing.

1981 in radio

The year 1981 in radio involved some significant events.

Jake Powell

Alvin Jacob Powell (July 15, 1908 – November 4, 1948), was an outfielder for the Washington Senators (1930, 1934–36 and 1943–45), New York Yankees (1936–40) and Philadelphia Phillies (1945).

List of Chicago Bears broadcasters

Currently, WBBM NewsRadio 780 airs the Chicago Bears football games with Jeff Joniak doing the play-by-play, along with color commentator Tom Thayer and sideline reporter Zach Zaidman. Over the years, many Bears play-by-play broadcasters have included Jack Brickhouse and Wayne Larrivee. Their current preseason TV announcers on Fox Chicago are Adam Amin or Kyle Brandt (play-by-play), Jim Miller (color commentary) and Lou Canellis (sideline reporter).

List of Chicago Cubs broadcasters

The following is a list of Chicago Cubs broadcasters:

Names in bold are recipients of the Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually by the National Baseball Hall of Fame to a broadcaster for major contributions to baseball.

List of Cotton Bowl Classic broadcasters

The following is a list of the television networks and announcers who have broadcast college football's Cotton Bowl Classic throughout the years.

List of Major League Baseball All-Star Game broadcasters

The following is a list of the American radio and television networks and announcers that have broadcast the Major League Baseball All-Star Game over the years.

Major League Baseball on Mutual

Major League Baseball on Mutual was the de facto title of the Mutual Broadcasting System's (MBS) national radio coverage of Major League Baseball games. Mutual's coverage came about during the Golden Age of Radio in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. During this period, television sports broadcasting was in its infancy, and radio was still the main form of broadcasting baseball. For many years, Mutual was the national radio broadcaster for baseball's All-Star Game and World Series.

Monte Moore

Monte Moore (born 1930) is a former radio and television broadcaster for the Kansas City Athletics and Oakland Athletics baseball teams.

Red Rush

Disambiguation: For the Yogurt flavour see Extreme Red Rush.Wresley "Red" Rush II (July 2, 1927 – January 11, 2009) was an American sportscaster.

A native of Long Beach, California, Rush (nicknamed for his shock of red hair) attended the University of Southern California where he developed his interest in broadcasting. Rush did play-by-play for several Major League Baseball teams, including the Kansas City A's (1965), Chicago White Sox (1967–70), Oakland A's (1971, 1979–80), and St. Louis Cardinals (1984). With the White Sox, and with the 1971 A's, Rush worked with Hall of Fame voice Bob Elson, providing raw enthusiasm and excitement to the broadcast in contrast to the more laconic Elson. It is said that A's owner Charlie Finley hired and fired Rush three times. From the '60s to the late '80s Rush was the voice of the Loyola University Ramblers men's college basketball team, and made the famous call of their 1963 NCAA National Championship ("WE WIN! WE WIN!"). He also called games for Northwestern University football, DePaul University basketball, and the Minneapolis Lakers and Golden State Warriors of the NBA.

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