Curt Gowdy

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004

For more than a half-century, his warm, distinctive voice was synonymous with American sports. On NBC TV and CBS radio, Curt Gowdy covered nine Super Bowls, thirteen World Series, and eight Olympic games. He was the Yankees' and the Red Sox 's main man and called play-by-play on some or the greatest  moments in sports history. But the self-described "Cowboy at the Mike" was also known for giving a voice to conservation, bringing hunting and fishing into mainstream culture.

He fished with presidents Carter and Bush and his television show, The American Sportsman, ran for twenty two seasons on ABC beginning in the mid- 1960s. Gowdy's success and public rapport as a sports  broadcaster helped draw people to the immensely popular show, as did his celebrity line up: Bing Crosby, Ted Williams, and Peter O'Toole were so me of his guests. Viewers were treated to a different expedition each Sunday afternoon, from duck hunting on the prairies to chasing a rhino on an African safari.Gowdy's adventures deepened the legitimacy of outdoor sports by bringing them into people's living rooms, and always, the show was laced with a strong message of wildlife and fisheries conservation. He hosted, wrote, and produced the show, for which he won six of his thirteen Emmy awards. It's coming back this fall as The New American Sportsman, although the retired Gowdy won't be hosting it.

But no matter where Gowdy went in his many travels, he'd "just as soon go back and fish in Wyoming as any­ where."

Born in 1919 in Green River, he grew up fishing lakes and rivers around Wyoming with his father, Edward. A basketball player at the University of Wyoming, Gowdy enlisted to be a fighter pilot after college, but a ruptured disc kept him home. He made his broadcasting debut  in 1943 on a soap box in a vacant lot in Cheyenne, calling a six- man high school football game before a handful of fans in the biting cold for $5.

"In the end, it was the only job I ever had, " he told  Esquire magazine.

Whether it was the Jets' upset win over Baltimore in Super Bowl III or when Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's home run record, Gowdy took a simple approach: "I tried to pretend that I was sitting in the stands with a buddy watching the game - poking him in the ribs when something exciting happened," Gowdy said. "I never took myself too seriously." Fortunately for wildlife, the public did.

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