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Remembering Bob Wolff

July 17, 2017

Bob Wolff, a truly good man, broadcaster, teacher and one who never saw me live up to being the one “tape” he used to demonstrate professional potential ability in his superb broadcasting classes, passed on yesterday, at the age of 96.

My condolences to his incredible wife Jane and kudos to granddaughter Elizabeth for her great, personable chat with me this day after. She did not fall far from the Wolff tree of great personality and courtesy.

As a tribute to Bob here is my post titled “The Great Bob Wolff” as written four years back.

The Great Bob Wolff
August 9, 2013
An “alchemist” got it right when he mixed hard work, an incredible penchant for preparation, and some good fortune in “creating” the great sportscaster Bob Wolff’s career.

Another “creation” brought Wolff, a truly caring, good man into this often angst ridden world. Bob Wolff, who has been a sportscaster for over 70 years and continues to work (at News 12 on Long Island, New York) at past 90 years old, treasures his wonderful family. He is “complete,” recalling their deeds, and stays spry looking to their future.

His wife Jane has exceeded any analyst, stat person or producer in helping Bob’s career. Jane has always been there with transportation and good thoughts both to and from Bob’s innumerable and incredible treks in an unbelievable career.

Without actually saying the words no hitter, as to not offend the many superstitious people in the radio audience and baseball world, Bob Wolff let us know Don Larsen was working on a perfect game. That was as he broadcast the second half of game five of the 1956 World Series.

When Dale Mitchell was called out on strikes by umpire Babe Pinelli, (working his last game ever as a home plate umpire) Bob intoned “strike three, a no hitter, a perfect game for Don Larsen!”

It is part of history and Bob’s call brings that moment to life. That accomplishment is a dream of many and Wolff with hard work, fierce determination and fortune lived it more than once. Each time he rose to the occasion including the next game of the ’56 World Series when Bob called Jackie Robinson’s game ending hit. It was Jackie’s last base hit.

On an unusually warm December 28th, 1958, Bob heard Baltimore writer John Steadman predict an overtime game before the start of the NFL championship game between the Baltimore Colts and New York Giants. There had never been an overtime game in NFL annals.

Bob did not need that great bit of forecasting to be prepared. Again he rose to the occasion in the overtime: (John) Unitas gives to (Alan) Ameche and the Colts are the world’s champions.

Bob’s broadcast of the historic play is succinct and “right on the play.” It it a broadcasting “call” that will play eternally. This is both achievement and well deserved reward for Bob Wolff.

Recently, Bob Wolff donated priceless interviews he conducted with such baseball greats as Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams to the Library of Congress.

This incredible gesture illustrates so much about Bob Wolff. He certainly is generous. Beyond that, organized and prepared, having archived this piece of baseball history. The interviews are both treasure and thanks to Bob to be treasured.

Bob Wolff is an incredible interviewer and with great creativity can improvise with the best of performers.

In 1977 the Mets traded Tom Seaver, their great pitcher to the Cincinnati Reds. It was the “topic of the day” for weeks and still resonates in New York baseball history. People certainly had their opinions.

I was privileged to be in Bob Wolff’s Pace University sports broadcasting class at that time. Days after the trade, he showed us all about preparation and creativity. Incredibly, he took both sides of the Seaver trade discussion. Exhibiting great articulation and just the right amount of enthusiasm and intensity, he reeled off both sides of the argument, without “batting a proverbial eyelash.” Having witnessed that still provides a great memory.

Whether setting the “winter holidays” scene for the ECAC Basketball Holiday Festival, picking the huge underdog Cincinnati Reds to not only win, but sweep the Oakland A’s in the 1990 World Series (they did), calling Clyde “The Glide” Austin’s winning shot in an NIT game, or more famously, another “Clyde,” (Walt “Clyde” Frazier) and the New York Knicks setting a then NBA record for consecutive wins, Bob has broadcast many great sports moments. He did so in great fashion.

Only Bob has broadcast in the championship round of all four major team sports leagues. That is just the tip of a “titanic iceberg” that also includes the 1962 National League playoff and Jerry West’s incredible shot that sent game three of the 1970 NBA finals into overtime.

Another great teacher, Harry Goder, was trying to help his 11th grade math class with the task of multiplying positive and negative numbers. He made the comparison with positive and negative people.

His first example stated a positive number multiplied by a positive number yields a positive number. “Think of good things happening to a good person.”

That certainly is the case with Bob Wolff, except change the word good to great.

 

Bob interviewing “The Babe.” Maybe they are connecting again. Ruth died in ’48, Wolff died at double 48, 96.

 

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