Bob Wolff, along with Curt Gowdy the only sports announcer that is a member of both the baseball and basketballs halls of fame, died Saturday in South Nyack, NY at age 96. In a career that began in 1939, Wolff covered every major sporting event from World Series to Super Bowls to NBC and NHL championship series and was an institution in New York, where he broadcast for the Yankees, Knicks and Rangers.
Along the way he interviewed everyone from Babe Ruth to Ty Cobb and Jim Thorpe to Joe ito Derek Jeter, and was in the booth for iconic sports moments including Don Larson’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series, the 1958 Giants-Colts NFL championship that was the first to go into overtime.
Said the Yankees organization in a statement: “Bob Wolff’s iconic, Hall-of-Fame broadcasting career was matched by his class and character. Beyond his lifetime of professional accomplishments, he was a man of great grace and dignity, serving his country with honor, and proudly calling New York home. Bob was a dear friend of the Yankees organization and he will be deeply missed.”
Born in New York City on November 29, 1920, Wolff was an outfielder at Duke University, but according to the New York Times obituary after breaking his ankle on a slide as a sophomore, he started broadcasting Duke games for the local CBS radio station in Durham, NC.
After serving in the Navy in the Pacific during World War II, in 1946 he was hired as sports director at WINX radio in Washington, DC in 1946 and became the lead broadcaster for the Washington Senators the next year. The new version of the Senators named the National Park press booth after Wolff, where his score sheet for Larson’s perfect game is on display.
Wolff eventually teamed with Joe Garagiola in the early 1960s on NBC’s baseball Game of the Week and broadcast Knicks and Rangers games for more than 50 years working for Madison Square Garden. He also called college hoops and even the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
He was inducted in to the broadcasting wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995, and was named to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.