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

Category Archives: Sportscaster

Bob Wolff

Bob Wolff (Sportscaster.  Born, New York, NY, Nov. 29, 1920.)  Acknowledged as the longest-running sportscaster in television history, Robert A. Wolff has been on the New York sports scene since 1954.  Wolff began in Washington, D.C., in 1946 with the old DuMont Network.  He became the Knicks television voice in 1954, beginning an association with Madison Square Garden that lasted 36 years.  Wolff was the lead announcer on the Knicks through 1975 and continued to fill in for another five years.  He also called Rangers games for 20 years, the E.C.A.C. Holiday Festival tournament for 29, the National Horse Show for 32, and the Westminster Kennel Club dog show for 33.  Wolff began doing Washington Senators baseball in 1947 and followed the team to Minnesota in 1961.  He never covered a New York baseball team regularly, but did call three Yankees World Series on radio:  1956 for Mutual, and 1958 and 1961 for NBC.  Wolff’s call of the ninth inning of Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 Series (“A no-hitter!  A perfect game for Don Larsen!”) is one of the game’s classic moments.  He also did some Mets games in 1995 for SportsChannel.  Wolff has done N.F.L. championship games, the Stanley Cup final, and the N.B.A. championship series, as well as the World Series.  Wolff began, in 1986, to deliver twice-nightly sportscasts for News 12 Long Island.  He was also a long-time professor at St. John’s and Pace universities.  A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Duke (where he played baseball), Wolff was a Navy officer during World War II.

Harry Wismer

Harry Wismer (Sportscaster and club owner.  Born, Port Huron, MI, June 30, 1913; died, New York, NY, Dec. 4, 1967.)  From his start at WJR in Detroit in 1935, Harry Wismer was one of America’s leading sportscasters.  In 1941, Wismer became the sports director and lead announcer for NBC’s second radio network (“Blue”), which shortly became ABC.  He continued in that position as ABC moved into the television era.  But it was as a football announcer that Wismer gained his greatest broadcasting fame.  He started as the play-by-play voice of the Lions in the 1930s and then shifted to the Washington Redskins.  Before World War II, Wismer handled Big 10 games for WJR.  For 16 seasons (1944-59), he was the radio voice of Notre Dame football.  He also did a nightly sports show on the Mutual Network (MBS) and a 15-minute radio show after Brooklyn Dodgers home games during the mid-1950s.  In 1957, Wismer called play-by-play for NBC on the N.F.L. championship game, the Sugar Bowl, the East-West Shrine game, the Pro Bowl, the North-South game, the Masters, and U.S. Open golf, while still doing Notre Dame and the Redskins.  A small, hard-drinking, and often combative man, Wismer was unpopular with many sportswriters and, sometimes, even his own partners.  He was, however, a part-owner of both Detroit and Washington in the N.F.L. (the only man ever to hold an interest in two N.F.L. clubs simultaneously) and a formative figure in the founding of the American Football League.  When the A.F.L. was officially formed in Chicago on Aug. 14, 1959, Wismer became the owner of the New York franchise that he later called Titans (“larger than Giants,” he said).  He negotiated the original network television contract for the A.F.L. with ABC (1960-64), spreading the revenue on a league-wide cooperative basis, unlike other leagues.  Wismer, through his friendship with general manager Mims Thomason and sports editor Leo Peterson of  U.P.I., assured the A.F.L. from its inception of parity in wire service coverage with the 40-year-old N.F.L.  His ownership of the Titans, he later said, cost him $2 million, and he was forced out after the team went bankrupt midway through the 1962 season.  Playing in the old Polo Grounds, the Titans were 7-7 in each of their first two seasons and fell to 5-9 in 1962.  A consortium fronted by Sonny Werblin bought the team out of bankruptcy in early 1963 and renamed the team the Jets.   As the Jets, the franchise became a box office success when it moved into the newly-opened Shea Stadium 1964.  It is doubtful, however, that the A.F.L. would have survived its early years without Wismer.  The team he founded was sold for $635 million in 2000.

Beto Villa

Beto Villa (Sportscaster.  Born, Caracas, Venzuela, Feb. 7, 1947.)  Beginning in 1996, the voice of Beto Villa became a familiar one to Spanish-speaking fans of the Yankees.  That year, Villa began calling play-by-play of the soon-to-be World Series champions on WADO (1280 AM).  When the MSG Network added the SAP option to its telecasts, his calls were simulcast to the Spanish video audience.  In 2002, Villa moved to the YES Network when it took over the primary Yankees television coverage.  His baseball career with major league games began in 1981 when he started working on radio broadcasts to Venzuela and the Caribbean.  Over the next 12 years, Villa called games for Spanish service to Mexico (1982, 1988-93), Puerto Rico (1986-88), and the U.S. (1982).

Sam Rosen

Sam Rosen (Sportscaster.  Born, Ulm, West Germany, Aug. 12, 1947.)  Moving to Brooklyn at age 2, Samuel Rosen became a good enough baseball player to captain City College as a senior in 1968, but most New York sports fans firmly identify him with hockey.  After radio jobs in Bridgeport, Conn., at WNAB (1970) and WICC (1971-73), Rosen became a sports reporter with U.P.I. Radio Network, where he stayed until 1980.  He joined MSG Network part-time in 1977 and in 1984 became the Rangers’ play-by-play man on the Network.  His first color man was Phil Esposito, who was named Rangers general manager in 1986>  Rosen then was paired with former Rangers goalie John Davidson for an N.H.L.-record 20 seasons, before Davidson become general manager of the St. Louis Blues, and then Joe Micheletti.  Rosen has also done Cosmos soccer (WNEW in 1980), boxing, college basketball, and N.F.L. football for ESPN, WPIX, and Fox Network Sports in his versatile career.  In 1989, he won the Sam Taub Award for excellence in boxing broadcasting.  Rosen was also the Cosmos public address announcer at Giants Stadium (1981-82).

Ed Randall

Ed Randall (Sportscaster.  Born, New York, NY, Oct. 20, 1952.)  A baseball jack-of-all-trades announcer, Edwin Wayne Randall has done play-by-play, update work, and anchored his own syndicated television program.  Randall was a minor league play-by-play voice in such towns as Elmira, N.Y., Bristol, Conn., Spokane, Wash., and Vancouver, B.C., from 1974-81.  A Fordham graduate, he then returned to New York, where he was a field reporter for CNN in 1980 and then began a two-decade association with ESPN as a daytime update anchor (in December 1980) and then a reporter for ESPN Radio.  Randall is perhaps best known as the host of his “Ed Randall’s Talkin’ Baseball,” a syndicated cable television program.  He was also with SportsChannel New York (1987-91), during which time he spent a year as a pre- and post-game host for SportsChannel’s Yankees telecasts.  Randall has also done a Spanish-language baseball program and a radio version of “Talkin’ Baseball” for WABC Radio.

Bill Stern

Bill Stern (Sportscaster.  Born, Rochester, NY, July 1, 1907; died, Harrison, NY, Nov. 19, 1971.)  Starting as a partner of Graham McNamee on NBC in 1934, Bill Stern made an impression on radio with his dramatic style.  He was also the first sportscaster in television history.  On May 17, 1939, Stern called the first game of a Columbia-Princeton baseball doubleheader at Columbia’s Baker Field for NBC’s experimental station W2XBS with Burke Crotty as the director.  Later the same year, Stern did the All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium  (July 11) and the first regular-season big league game (Aug. 26) at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field.  He was also behind the mike for other events such as horse racing and college football (he did a major bowl game annually from 1938-52), but his style did not translate well to television.  In the 1950s, Stern did a daily radio show of sports anecdotes called Colgate “Sports Newsreel” on NBC and then moved to Mutual radio network with a similar program.  A graduate of Penn Military College (now Widener), Stern began as a theatre manager before his resonant voice and crisp enunciation landed him in radio.  Regrettably, his career was damaged by drug abuse.

Clemson Smith-Muniz

Clemson Smith Muniz (Sportscaster.  Born, Washington, DC, Aug. 11, 1958.)  A former sportswriter for the Daily News, Clemson Lewis Smith Muniz has become one of the leading Spanish-language broadcasters and producers in the New York area.  Smith Muniz began broadcasting Knicks games in 1994 (WADO-1280 AM) and began calling the Jets in 2000.  In 2005, he added Army football.  Smith Muniz has been an active writer and producer for, among others, HBO Sports, MLB International, and ABC News (2000).  He began his newspaper career with the Hartford (Conn.) Courant in 1980 and was with the Daily News for four years (1983-87) before moving into television.

Dave Sims

Dave Sims (Sportscaster.  Born, Philadelphia, PA, Feb. 14, 1953.)  Following seven years (1975-82) as a sportswriter with the Daily News, David Simpson Sims turned to sportscasting.  Sims became a host for Knicks radio broadcasts and the network’s “Coors Sports Night” show in 1986.  In 1991, he became a play-by-play announcer for ESPN.  Sims’ other assignments have included hosting a WNBC Radio show entitled “Sports Night with Dave Sims,” a midday talk show host shift (with Ed Coleman) on WFAN-AM from 1989 to 1993 and a sports news stint with WCBS-TV (1995-98).  He has also hosted numerous cable sports programs.  Since 2007, he has been part of the Seattle Mariners’ broadcasting team.

Michael Kay

Michael Kay (Sportscaster.  Born, The Bronx, NY, Feb. 2, 1961.)  A sportswriter-turned-broadcaster, Michael Kay became an integral part of the Yankees after joining veteran John Sterling as their radio tandem on WABC in 1992.  A 1982 graduate of Fordham, Kay joined the New York Post that year as a general news reporter, moving to sports two years later.  In 1987, he became the Post’s Yankees beat writer and kept that assignment when he switched to the Daily News in 1989.  After five years on the Yankees beat, Kay, a nephew of actor Danny Aiello, became a radio voice.  Although Kay and Sterling had critics who disliked their in-game digressions, they were enormously popular with Yankees fans and inspired intense loyalty.  In 2002, Kay moved to the YES Network as the lead play-by-play announcer when that network took over Yankees cablecasts.  He began a sports talk show on ESPN Radio (AM 1050) in 2003 and a very successful interview show, “Center Stage,” on YES.

Deb Kaufman

Deb Kaufman Placey (Sportscaster.  Born, St. Louis, MO, Aug. 17, 1966.)  Inspired by pioneer ESPN anchor Gayle Gardner, Deb Kaufman set out to become a sports anchor, joining ESPN as a production assistant in 1988.  Starting in 1990, Kaufman moved to four broadcast stations in just over three years, going from Marion, Ill., to WPRI-TV in Providence, R.I. (1991), to WSVN-TV (FOX) in Miami, Fla. (1992).  By 1993, she was back at ESPN as a reporter and an anchor on the new ESPN2.  In August 1995, Kaufman moved to MSG Network as a pre- and post-game host and anchor on “SportsDesk.”  She worked the Knicks, Rangers, and Yankees regularly and, starting in 1998, began filling the same roles on FOX Sports New York.  In 2003, Kaufman began as a fill-in sports anchor on WNBC-TV (Ch. 4), backing up Len Berman and Bruce Beck.  In 2001, she began covering the Islanders for MSG and in 2011, she became a reporter for Devils games on the MSG Network and MSG Plus.

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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