Bob Wolff Honored at Yankee Stadium for 75 Years of Broadcasting Excellence

Howard Goldin

Bronx, NY---Bob Wolff, one of the most talented and respected broadcasters and telecasters in history was honored at Yankee Stadium prior to the Yankees-Mariners game on Thursday evening. The native New Yorker was being recognized for his second citation in the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS.

Om March 21, 2012, he was saluted for having the “Longest Career as a Sportscaster”. He most recent mark goes beyond the category of sports as he is now recognized as “Longest Career as a Broadcaster,” His career as of May 1 has been running for 74 years, 6 months, 7 days and counting. When told this record will never be broken, Wolff said, “I will, each day.” He also remarked, “To do it in my 75th year even surprises me.” He also realizes his memory will be extended by being included in the famous volume, “Long after I’m gone, you can look in the book.”

Wolff, who broadcast three World Series and two of the most remembered sports events in history, Don Larsen’s Perfect Game in the 1956 World Series and the 1958 NFL Championship between the New York Giants and the Baltimore Colts, from Yankee Stadium, commented upon the site of his salute on Thursday, “This is beyond a thrill. If you’re broadcasting at Yankee Stadium, you’ve hit the pinnacle.”

Wolff’s first broadcast took place in Durham, North Carolina on October 23, 1939 while he was a student at Duke University. He explained the background at a press conference immediately after the ceremony concluded. Wolff thought he was a good ballplayer and matriculated at Duke because of its reputation of developing players for the major leagues. He broke his ankle which ended his dreams of playing, but was offered an opportunity at the CBS affiliate in Durham due to his knowledge of the players at Duke. He was eventually asked to work full-time and gave up his baseball dreams.

At the conference, Wolff repeatedly remarked, “I’ve been lucky all my life.” As an example, he spoke about his World War II experiences in the U.S. Navy. His ideas were accepted and he was asked to write a book that re-wrote naval regulations, he was offered a full-time broadcasting job and he met his wife, who he married 69 years ago.

His wife, Jane, was with him at the ceremony. The loving couple are the parents of three children, the grandparents of nine and the great-grandparents of five.

While luck, good or bad, plays a part in everyone’s life, Wolff is far too modest to attribute his success in broadcasting to luck. He has been on a baseball field far more times than he would have had he been successful in reaching the majors. He was the broadcaster for the Washington Senators from 1947-1960 and continued for two more seasons after the team relocated to Minnesota as the Twins in 1961.

As a personal note, my brother and I as children listened to Wolff call Senators’ games at the end of their stay in Washington as our radio in the Bronx  could pick up the signal of WTOP, the station that broadcast the games, late at night.

The New York City native did much outstanding work at Madison Square Garden, broadcasting games of the Knicks and Rangers. He laughed when recollecting his 32 year stint doing the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at MSG. That assignment gave him one of his rare opportunities to sing publicly since singing with a dance band at Duke.

The resident of South Nyack has travelled to the studio of News 12 Long Island for the past 28 years where he covers sports events and does commentary. One of his co-workers said he was idolized by everyone at the station.

In the era Wolff began his professional career, play-by-play broadcasters were expected to call the plays and not add humor or opinions. The good humored Wolff tried to make his broadcasts more entertaining and interesting to listeners. Wolff believes, “If you’re different, you stand out and get more chances.”

Wolff’s outstanding professional performances has earned him many honors. He is one of two broadcasters, with Curt Gowdy, to be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown and the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.Nearly 60 years of covering events at Madison Square Garden was recognized by his inclusion in the Madison Square Garden Walk of Fame.

In addition to respect for Wolff professionally, anyone who has worked with him or even knows him casually has the highest regard for Wolff as a extremely decent human being who is deserved off all honors he has received.

 

howardg53@yahoo.com