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R.I.P., Curt Gowdy

Curt Gowdy, "the quintessential generalist of the pre-cable-television era," passed away yesterday, at the age of 86.

I am too young to have witnessed Gowdy's prime of the 1960s and 70s; by the time I came to sports consciousness, Gowdy was near retirement and had been passed by as the preeminent national voice of baseball and football. I vaguely remember his "American Sportsman" show, the prototype of those "Great Outdoors" shows that seemed to die out for awhile before resurging in recent years.

It is not overly dramatic to claim that Gowdy dominated network sports for an entire generation, the generation between broadcasting's awkward beginnings and when sports became oversaturated on television. The following paragraph from the N.Y. Times obituary puts Gowdy's stature in perspective:

In an extraordinary run that showed his multisport versatility, he called 7 Super Bowls from 1967 to 1979, . . .

It's possible for Joe Buck to come close to this, if FOX retains its NFL contract for another round or two---

10 consecutive World Series from 1966 to 1975, . . .

Meaning no disrespect to Mr. Buck Junior, it is certainly possible that Buck will match this if FOX ponies up for the exclusive postseason contract one more time---

12 Rose Bowls, . . .

That's certainly impressive, probably second to Keith Jackson---

24 N.C.A.A. men's basketball championship games . . .

Jim Nantz, who will be doing by my count his 17th consecutive Final Four, has nearly a decade to go in order to match this. Brent Musburger, who was the Final's Four institutional announcer before the alleged "vendetta" by CBS led to Nantz's ascension to the big-time, only did seven or eight Final Fours. (For instance, if you watch the clip of Jim Valvano's miracle N.C. State championship in '83---Billy Packer: "They won it . . . on the dunk."---it is Gary Bender doing play-by-play.)

7 Olympics

So, in addition to all of the previous stuff, Gowdy was a generation's Bob Costas. Oh, and---

ABC Sports had wooed him to be the first play-by-play announcer for "Monday Night Football," but NBC would not release him from his contract.

And don't forget one other thing: Gowdy was also in the original Naked Gun.