Magical Seasons Experienced in the Sports Broadcasting Profession

There are special, almost magical seasons you experience if you’ve worked as long as I have in the sports broadcasting profession.

The great decade of the 80’s as the lead play-by-play voice of the NBA on CBS has several of those seasons.

Frankly, I look upon that time not so much in specific years  but as an entire package of a golden period.

Since we’re in the midst of the baseball season, my thoughts, as of late, run towards the magical year of 1975, my first season announcing baseball.

It’s not at all surprising, considering how the Yankees and the Red Sox are dominating the game this year, as they have so often in the past.

The story of calling  Carlton Fisk’s dramatic home run in the ’75 World Series was the climax to my inaugural campaign behind the mike in baseball, and it remains my biggest career moment.

But I’d like to rewind the tape and discuss the season as it evolved.

The Red Sox had a crushing finish the year prior. A seven game lead in the division evaporated in September, and the Baltimore Orioles prevailed as they had many times during that period.

There was great expectation for the Sox going into the ’75 season, and for me, the thrill of finally becoming a big-league baseball broadcaster overshadowed all the pre-season prognostications of the AL East race. Doing play-by-play in the major leagues was good enough for me. Doing it in Boston, a great baseball city and in Fenway Park, especially, was more than a dream come true.

The Yankees emerged as the favorites, and it was totally understandable.

These were the early days of free-agency. The fears were, that the rich would get richer, and competitiveness would be on the wane.

So here were the Yankees getting immeasurably stronger by signing Catfish Hunter, who was regarded as the top pitcher in the league.

Hunter was part of a brilliant pitching staff that spurred the Oakland A’s to three consecutive world championships heading into 1975.

Now the Yankees had out-bid all others, and signed Catfish Hunter.

The Red Sox made a few moves of their own, but nowhere near as spectacular as the Yankees acquisition.

In a move to boost their own pitching corps, always the club’s weakness, the Red Sox obtained a pair of right-handers, Rick Wise and Reggie Cleveland from the St.Louis Cardinals.

Hitting always seemed to be the strength of the team, led by Carl Yastrzemski, one of baseball’s all-time greats.

But early in the season, as the Red Sox positioned themselves at or near the top of the division, the emergence of two rookies stamped Boston as an unquestioned contender in the division race.

The two rookies were Fred Lynn and Jim Rice.


Fred Lynn


Jim Rice


They were known as the Gold Dust Twins.  In appearance they were anything but.

Lynn, was a stylish, smooth southern Californian, who starred for the baseball-power USC Trojans as a collegian. Rice, was a compact, strong-as-steel powerhouse from South Carolina. Lynn was white. Rice was black.

Together they became a wrecking-force in the American League.

Lynn, a left-handed hitter, was able to spray base-hits, many of them doubles to all fields. He had the ability to get these hits from inside the left-field line to shots down the line in right.  He had power as well.

Fred Lynn wound up batting .331 with 21 homers, and 105 runs batted in.

The fact that he was the first player ever to capture both the AL Rookie-of-the-Year and Most Valuable Player Awards speaks volumes.

Rice, I believe, would have hit over 50 home runs had it not been for Fenway Park’s famed left-field wall, the Green Monster, 37-feet high.

Rice scalded countless line shots off the wall for doubles that would have been 400-foot-plus home runs in any other ballpark. He wound up with 20 home runs.

These two added a spark to a team that already had the talent to contend.

I remember a Thursday night in mid-June in Detroit, when Fred Lynn went 5-6 and drove in 10 runs against the Tigers. Then it was on to New York, and a three-game series against the Yankees. There, the Red Sox beat Catfish Hunter, and swept the series.

That week solidified the club, and with an undeniable boost in confidence, the Boston Red Sox were on their way.

When you have an opportunity to watch a team day-by-day, you see the little things, the nuances that ultimately define their fortunes.

In my broadcasting 100 games on WSBK-TV, with my colorful and Red Sox fan-favorite, Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, I have to admit I was a fan myself.

I wanted the Red Sox to win and I think it showed.

Not really an out-and-out ‘homer’, who colored the calls to the Sox advantage,  viewers could tell from my voice that I was delighted when things went right for Boston.

That was how I felt.

Later, when I broadcast for a network, I was totally down the middle.

In fact, I’ll tell you a little secret.

Promise not to tell anyone, but when the Red Sox lost, I would return to the hotel and had no appetite for dinner or going out.

Funny, whether the team won or lost, the players would shower, put on fancy cologne, style their hair and prepare for a night out.

At first, I couldn’t understand.

Eventually, I realized that they were professionals who had done their jobs, couldn’t change the outcome, and would return the next day and the day after, and the day after that, to play again.

What would they accomplish by sulking?

And eventually I realized I couldn’t accomplish anything by being depressed either.

There is no need to chronicle that 1975 season, my first as the TV voice of the Boston Red Sox.

It wound up in glorious fashion…………until the 7th game of the World Series.

I’m amused every time I run into the great catcher Johnny Bench of the Cincinnati Reds.

Johnny always says to me, “Dick, I know about your call of Carlton Fisk’s legendary homer in game six, but don’t forget who won that World Series”.

I always say to Johnny, “didn’t they call it off after six games?”

I know better.

I also know that in the long marathon of a 162 game season, there are those turning points that define a team.

For me, that 1975 baseball season in Boston, was as a magical time as there ever was.


With Hawk Harrelson