Legendary Sportscaster Earns Award at NYIT Athletics Hall of Fame Honoring

NYIT Athletics/Stacy Sideras

NYIT Athletics/Stacy Sideras

Wolff recieving his award from Athletic Director Clyde Doughty

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When sports fan are asked who their favorite broadcaster is they would say well known names like longtime New York Knicks broadcaster Marv Albert, current Knicks broadcaster Mike Breen, and Al Michaels, the voice of NBC’s Sunday Night Football. Some fans today might remember the legendary sportscasters such as Vin Scully who announced the New York Mets World Championship in 1986. As well known as all these men are for their work over the years, another one might top them all and he was honored by NYIT earlier this month.

Legendary sportscaster Bob Wolff, a member of the Baseball and Basketball Hall of Fame’s and a long time voice for Madison Square Garden Network and the Washington Senators Baseball team was honored by the NYIT Athletic Department by receiving the memorial Dr. William T. “Buck” Lai Wonderful Life Award at the annual Hall of Fame Induction on October 6th at the de Seversky Mansion. The NYIT Athletics Hall of Fame honors outstanding performances by NYIT alumni on the fields of play, as well as those who have distinguished themselves as model athletes, coaches and administrators.

This award was started 5 years ago by Athletic Director Clyde Doughty in honor of the former Director of Athletics. It is given in honor of an individual who brought dignity and professionalism to work every day. “William T. “Buck” Lai was a motivator and leader”, says Clyde Doughty. “He was my boss for four years at NYIT and was of source of inspiration for me as I headed into the role that I am blessed to have. Buck gave so much too so many people and he truly enjoyed the world of athletics but mostly he loved people.”

Wolff was blessed with this honor from a school that he says defines what life is about today which is technology. “Technology is what life is about and it is very important for today’s sportscasters,” says Wolff. “This is a great honor from a great school with great academics and athletics and I am blessed to be the recipient.” He has been in the media business for 9 decades which totals 72 years that started in 1939 while he attended Duke University and still working today at the age of 90. Bob was always a big fan of baseball playing centerfield growing up and he always had a passion for sports and he says he is most proud of his gifted mind for what he has achieved. His style of broadcasting is something most viewers wouldn’t think how a broadcast is prepared. His is add lip where he doesn’t write scripts or uses many notes and he just states what’s on his mind and uses his knowledge of the sport he’s working. “I always wanted to learn a lot and never let 1 thing interfere with another; the mind is a wonderful thing and I learned a lot by always concentrating and saying what I see.”

He has made sportscasting history in many ways; he is the only sportscaster that was inducted into both the baseball and basketball hall of fames for his work over his career. Growing up a big baseball fan, when he got inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995 it was a true honor for him that included his whole family at the induction ceremony. “One day a sportscaster said to me, Bob, your time has come; I gave it some thought and when I was inducted, it was a major pat on the back for achievement.” He is also the first and only person to this day to have called play-by-play in the four major professional sports which is the NFL Championship, World Series, NBA Championship, and the NHL Championship also known as the Stanley Cup Finals. This is something that wouldn’t have happened without intense preparation and a lot of knowledge. “I’ve always enjoyed athletics and entertainment and sportscasting is a job where both of these things happen. My job is a vacation, it’s a great benefit to watch all kinds of sports and I enjoy all the people I work with.”

Wolff became a broadcasting legend during the 15 years he spent in Washington D.C. and was most known for his work with the Washington Senators baseball team. In 1954, he began working for Madison Square Garden Network where he served as the voice of the New York Knicks and the New York Rangers for 36 years. He was part of more telecasts at the Garden than any other sportscaster in the business broadcasting almost all events taking place at the world’s most famous arena other then wrestling. “Being from New York, it’s always a thrill to say Bob Wolff at Madison Square Garden each night.” He also brings a lot of positive emotion which he calls a key factor to being a good sportscaster. “This is a key factor to enjoyment for the viewers, when the Knicks won their two championships there was a lot of positive emotion by everyone.” In 2003, he was also inducted into the Madison Square Garden Walk of Fame.

He is well known for being a baseball broadcaster and was at the microphone on the radio for Yankee’s pitcher Don Larsen’s perfect game in the World Series in 1956. “It is always something special for me since they will always play my call of the last out to remember this historic event. It was an exciting moment and I am proud of that call.” This is the only perfect game in World Series history coming into this year’s postseason. In addition, he is the only broadcaster in his career to have interviewed Yankees players Babe Ruth and Derek Jeter and he says interview technique doesn’t change over the years and it’s about that individual. “The objective of a good interview is to inform and be entertaining, each person has something about them that’s fun and you always want to include all the excitement in a good interview.”

In the later part of his career, he reduced his broadcasting schedule for MSG and when News 12 Long Island came on the air in 1986, Wolff became the Sports Director and Anchor and continued doing what he loves to do and what he does best. “After many years of a lot of work and traveling, I wanted to stay home with no traveling and spend time with my family while also continue to do something I love to do.” Bob still works at News 12 today entering his 25th year as a Senior Sports Commentator covering major sports events on camera, writing a sports column for their website, and telecasting sports specials, features and opinions. His show “Bob Wolff’s Point of View” airs weekly on the network.

He has also been involved in many educational pursuits working as a college professor at Pace and St. John’s University and has seen many students of his work in the communications field over the years. He has also worked with many student interns at News 12 Long Island including Robert Marzano who graduated from NYIT last spring. “Working with someone who is a legend in that profession, it is a privilege that many people never get to experience,” says Marzano.  As an intern at News 12 Long Island, I had the pleasure of working with Bob Wolff on “Bob Wolff’s Point of View” and producing segments of the program for him. Working with Bob was an experience that I will never forget and it is something I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

One of Wolff’s most recent projects was writing his 4th book, Bob Wolff’s Complete Guide to Sportscasting which was released earlier this year. The book is written as a step-by-step playbook for sportscasting success and how to advance in the competitive media market. “This was always a project I had in mind to put together and it took 5 years for me to say yes to the publisher.” My goal was to put my teaching and tips together to make this an fun and entertaining book read like how I speak.” The book is very inspiring to those working to pursue a media career and to those who are working in the sports business today. “No one is better qualified to write a book on sportscasting than Bob Wolff,” says Mike Breen, the current play-by-play announcer for the New York Knicks on MSG. “He’s a legend with an unquenchable curiosity to learn about the events he covers and the people he interviews, the only thing more impressive than Bob Wolff the sportscaster is Bob Wolff the man.”

There aren’t many people like Bob Wolff with his passion and dedication to sportscasting and still actively working for this long and at the age of 90. “This is like always being on vacation, I love the excitement and it’s a wonderful life that just keeps getting more fun.” Wolff’s name was a no brainer according to the Athletic Department when they picked him as this year’s recipient. “All true leaders in their fields but humble individuals who have outstanding reputations,” says Athletic Director Clyde Doughty. “At ninety plus years he is engaging, entertaining and a wealth of information.  It is not very often you are in an intimate presence with someone who has done so much with so many famous people, but at the ceremony he made us all very special.”

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1 Comment

One Response to “Legendary Sportscaster Earns Award at NYIT Athletics Hall of Fame Honoring”

  1. Robert Marzano on October 12th, 2011 9:42 PM

    I have had the pleasure of working with Bob at News 12, and the stories that he would tell, you could fall asleep with. This is something that I will forever cherish and will remember for the rest of my life.

    Great article to John, very, very well written. Thank You for this.

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Legendary Sportscaster Earns Award at NYIT Athletics Hall of Fame Honoring