New-York Historical Society's Bill Shannon Dictionary of New York Sports

Category Archives: Public address

Bob Sheppard

Bob Sheppard (Public address.  Born, Richmond Hill, Queens, Oct. 20, 1910; died, Baldwin, NY, July 11, 2010.)  Robert Leo Sheppard possessed one of the most memorable voices in the history of New York sports and a style of enunciation that has never been equalled.  Although almost everyone associates him with New York Yankees baseball games, where he was the public address announcer from 1951 until his final game Sept. 5, 2007 (though he did not officially retire until after the 2009 season), Sheppard actually got his start as a major sports voice in professional football.  He joined the Brooklyn Football Dodgers of the All-America Conference at Ebbets Field in 1948.  When the team folded at the end of the season, he moved to Yankee Stadium with the Yankees football team of the A.A.F.C. and worked two more years with the N.F.L. Yanks.  Then came baseball at the behest of Yankees president Dan Topping, who had also been the owner of the A.A.F.C. Yankees.  Sheppard was also the voice of the Football Giants for 50 seasons (1956-2005).  Sheppard has also graced many other New York sporting events with his mellow intonations, including pro soccer for four different leagues, college football (at West Point for three seasons and at St. John’s), and college basketball (St. John’s, for whom he played quarterback as an undergraduate).  The Yankees commemorated his 50th year as the club’s public address announcer by dedicating a plaque in his honor in Monument Park on Opening Day, 2000.

Stan Saplin

Stan Saplin (Public address.  Born, New York, NY, Jan. 12, 1914; died, New York, NY, Mar. 1, 2002.)  One of the most respected figures in the New York sports field, Stanley Saplin became most identified with New York University during his long career. However, he also served such varied  organizations as the New York Rangers, the Millrose Games, the Amateur Athletic Union and the old New York Journal-American.  Saplin became the publicity director of the Rangers after World War II and created a publication then known as the “Blue Book,” which was the first comprehensive annual publication about the team and its history ever produced. It has gone through many changes in the intervening years being known variously as a media guide and a yearbook but it continued to appear annually until the late 2000s.  Leaving the Rangers, Saplin joined the Journal-American as a sportswriter and stayed with the paper full-time until 1953 when he returned to N.Y.U.  But he continued to write for the Journal-American for many years thereafter, covering a wide variety of events including track and field where he became a nationally-recognized historical authority.  Saplin began his public address career on a steady basis in 1959 with the Millrose Games.  His voice became synonymous with this greatest of all indoor track meets.  He also worked behind the microphone during the National A.A.U. championship indoor meets at the Garden, the U.S. Olympic Trials and the famed Penn Relays at Franklin Field in Philadelphia.  He was influential in the creation of the Chronicle of Higher Education and served many years as the sports information director at N.Y.U., as well as its news director and as an advisor to its executives in areas of communications and public service.

Rich Kahn

Rich Kahn (Public address.  Born, Brooklyn, NY, Sept. 27, 1951.)  A television public relations executive, Richard A. Kahn served as the Jets public address announcer for 19 seasons (1983-2001).  Kahn’s first season was the team’s last at Shea Stadium.  His tenure was the longest in that job ever for the Jets.  Kahn also did public address for the Islanders (1982-95), Fordham, Seton Hall, and C.W. Post (his alma mater).  He was director of marketing and public relations at SportsChannel (1987-94) before joining Primestar Satellite TV.  In 2005, he became the voice of the Palestra in Philadelphia, PA.

Joe Humphreys

Joe Humphreys (Public address.  Born, New York, NY, Oct. 19, 1872; died, Fair Haven, NJ, July 10, 1936.)  His career as the most famous ring announcer of his time began for Joe Humphreys quite by accident in 1893.  Humphreys became the announcer at Gus Maich’s Little Casino on the New Bowery when the usual announcer didn’t appear.  He was so impressive that he earned the job permanently.  Soon he was considered the equal of Tim Hurst and Charlie Harvey, then the major boxing announcers.  Humphreys became the official announcer at Madison Square Garden, where he had worked occasionally, when Tex Rickard took over the arena in 1920.  On the final night of boxing at the second Garden, May 5, 1925, Humphreys delivered a stirring (some thought maudlin) ode to the “temple of fistiana” before the final main event.  He resisted using microphones even when a sound system was installed with the opening of the third Garden that year.  Ill health eventually forced him to accept amplified sound.  In 1935, Humphreys was so ill that he could not climb into the ring for the Braddock-Baer heavyweight title fight and, instead, did the introductions from ringside.  He announced his last major fight Sept. 24, 1935 (Louis-Baer at Yankee Stadium) and worked some at the Garden in 1935-36.  For those last few events, Humphreys introduced only the principals in the main event on the card.

Thom Morrera

Thom Morrera (Public address. Born, White Plains, NY, Dec. 16, 1945; died, New York, Aug. 18, 2012.) From director of music programming at Madison Square Garden, Thom Morrera, arock-and-roll disc jockey famed for handling the overnight shift on WNEW-FM in the 1970s and ’80s, became the public address announcer for the Rangers (1986-93), succeeding Carl Martin. Morrera also handled the public address briefly for the Islanders in 1995 when Rich Kahn relocated out of state on his full-time job. Morrera was also the stadium public address announcer for 11 years (1991-2001) at the U.S. Open tennis at the National Tennis Center.

Clem McCarthy

Clem McCarthy (Public address. Born, East Bloomfield, NY, Sept. 9, 1882; died, New York, NY, June 4, 1962.) From his beginning as a public address announcer, Charles F. McCarthy became perhaps the most celebrated radio broadcaster in the history of thoroughbred racing. As the son of a horse dealer who grew too big to be a jockey, McCarthy came naturally to his descriptions of the “sports of kings.” As one of the leading sports announcers for NBC, he also worked many major sports events on the radio, including the Joe Louis-Max Schmeling rematch for the heavyweight title in 1938. Louis knocked out Schmeling in the first round and anyone who has ever heard the radio description of that round is left with an indelible impression of McCarthy’s powerful style and gravel-voiced tone. In 1928, McCarthy called his first Kentucky Derby, the first Derby to be broadcast nationally on radio. He continued to call the Derby until 1950, when Fred Capossela took over all three of the Triple Crown races. McCarthy had also done the calls of the Belmont Stakes and the Preakness. Until his retirement due to illness in 1957, McCarthy continued to work other major races and some boxing events. Until shortly before his death, McCarthy also wrote a syndicated sports column. McCarthy was one of the true pioneers in race calling and helped create forms of verbal description that are still used by his successors. He created visions in the mind’s eye of his listeners that remain classics to this day.

Lauren Matthews

Lauren Matthews (Public address. Born, Derby, CT, July 2, 1947.) As a member of the Mets promotion department, Lauren Ellsworth Matthews also served as the team’s public address announcer for nearly seven seasons. Matthews replaced the late Jack Lightcap during the 1970 season and was the Mets voice at Shea Stadium through 1976. He was the team’s director of promotions for three years (1977-79) before beginning a successful career as a programming executive at ESPN in 1980.

Carl Martin

Carl Martin (Public address. Born, West New York, NJ, Mar. 13, 1919; died, Lakewood, NJ, May 10, 2009 .) Carl Martin worked as a sports columnist, a publicist and group ticket salesman before finding a niche as a public address announcer, initially as a backup to the great John Condon at Madison Square Garden. Martin began filling in for Condon at college basketball and New York Knickerbockers games in 1966, eventually working the E.C.A.C. Holiday Festival, the National Invitational Tournament, N.B.A. playoff games and international matches in the Garden until 1987. He has the unique experience of working the only tie game in modern basketball history when the Chinese National team refused to play overtime against Rutgers. He earned great distinction as a tennis announcer, handling the US Open at the National Tennis Center for 11 years as well as major indoor events such as the Virginia Slims Championships, the Volvo and Colgate Grand Prix Masters and the 1981 Davis Cup match between the U.S. and Czechoslovakia at the National Tennis Center. Martin was also an experienced hockey announcer beginning with the old E.C.A.C. Holiday Hockey Festival. He handled the New York Raiders and Golden Blades of the World Hockey Association from 1972 to 1973 and then took over as the voice of the Rangers at the Garden through 1986. He was also a licensed ring announcer who worked boxing in both New York and New Jersey for many years. Before his announcing career hit full stride, Martin was assistant sports editor and columnist for the old Hudson Dispatch (Union City, N.J.).

Jim Hall

Jim Hall (Public address.  Born, New York, NY, May 30, 1933.)  Perhaps the most-heard but least known public address announcer in New York sports, James Joseph Hall began filling in for the legendary Bob Sheppard in 1963.  The pair became acquainted as student and teacher when Hall went from St. John’s Prep to St. John’s, where Sheppard was already the notable voice.  After beginning a teaching career at John Adams H.S., Hall in 1959 started teaching speech and public speaking at St. John’s.  He also coached the debate team.  Four years later, Sheppard invited him to work with him as a backup and also his spotter for the Giants N.F.L. games at Yankee Stadium.  In the ensuing four decades, he did over 300 Yankees games, dozens of Giants games, and also became the voice of St. John’s women’s basketball, lacrosse, baseball, and football.  In 2006, Hall succeeded Sheppard as the regular Giants announcer and, in 2008, took over for the Yankees when Sheppard was incapacitated by illness, working virtually every game, including that year’s All-Star Game.  Hall eventually became a department chairman at St. John’s and manned the microphone for football, lacrosse, baseball, and women’s basketball.  When the Yankees moved into their new Stadium in 2009, Paul Olden became the regular P.A. announcer.

Al Frazin

Al Frazin (Public address.  Born, New York, NY, Mar. 21, 1905; died, Satellite Beach, FL, July 9, 1988.)  Alfred Bender Frazin was perhaps the best announcer in the early days of arena public address systems and was so well known that he was frequently included in such non-sports material as comic strips and cartoons as an announcer.  His career began at Madison Square Garden in 1925, when he was the announcer for the New York Americans, the city’s first National Hockey League team.  Frazin’s microphone duties rapidly expanded to include the New York Rangers when they joined the N.H.L. in 1926.  Frazin was also the voice of such diverse Garden events as six-day bike races, the National Horse Show, college basketball, track meets, industrial shows, skating exhibitions and rodeos.  He was also heard as a sports announcer on WMSG, a radio station owned by the Garden corporation.  He came into the business by accident.  As an amateur speed skater, Frazin once filled in as an announcer during a competition and was hired by a Garden executive to work regularly.  In 1942, after working thousands of events before millions of fans, Frazin resigned to join the U.S. Army.  During his 23-year military career, he rose to the rank of Lt. Colonel before retiring in 1965.  One of the finest all-around athletes produced by New York’s McBurney School, Frazin became an avid golfer in his retirement and set a course record in San Francisco with four holes-in-one at the Presidio Golf Club.

About This Dictionary

The Bill Shannon Biographical Dictionary of New York Sports is an open database of sports biographies maintained by Jordan Sprechman and Marty Appel. We welcome public and scholarly contributions and suggestions.

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About Bill Shannon

A prolific author, wire service sports reporter, long time Major League Baseball official scorer, football statistician, sports museum founder, theatrical agency owner and public ... read more

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