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Bob Elson: Wikis


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Bob Elson (March 22, 1904 - March 10, 1981) was a pioneering American sportscaster.

Born in Chicago, Elson got into broadcasting by accident. While vacationing in St. Louis in 1928, Elson was touring KWK when a receptionist saw him among 40 men in line for an audition and thought he was going for one 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 games for the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox. Such double-duty would be impossible today. However, in those days, the Cubs and White Sox almost never played at home on the same day, and most teams "recreated" road games via telegraph information. In 1930, he called his first World Series for the Mutual Broadcasting System--the first of 12 in a row.

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." However, at the request of Franklin D. Roosevelt, he was called home to announce the 1943 World Series.

From 1946 to 1970 he broadcast for the White Sox exclusively. He missed a chance to call the 1959 World Series--the White Sox' first since 1919, and Elson's first since 1943—on NBC because the head of NBC Sports didn't like him. He was, however, allowed to call the Series on the White Sox' radio flagship, WCFL. In 1971, he called games for the Oakland Athletics before returning to Chicago, where he teamed with Lloyd Pettit on the Chicago Black Hawks broadcasts.

His style was often described as "relaxed", not easily succumbing to emotion or hyperbole. In his heyday he was one of the leading members of his profession. He was one of the first broadcasters to do on-field interviews. However, in later years, he felt uncomfortable with announcers who frequently criticized on-field performance, having grown up in an era where sportscasters were regularly drinking buddies with players and managers. His style inspired several other broadcasters who grew up in the Midwest, such as Jack Brickhouse, Earl Gillespie, Bert Wilson, Gene Elston and Milo Hamilton.

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

External links

Preceded by
Mel Allen
Red Barber
Ford C. Frick Award
Succeeded by
Russ Hodges


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