I was one of the many and, depending on your perspective, also one of the few, lucky ones who got to personally know the great Bob Wolff. I was so saddened to learn the Hall of Famer and legendary sportscaster passed away on Sunday.
I first knew Bob from the late 1960’s into the 1970’s TV broadcasts of Knicks’ games. He was the play-by-play announcer when the Knicks set a then NBA record with their 18th consecutive win. The Knicks trailed the Cincinnati Royals by five points with 16 seconds left and pulled it out for miraculous win to set the record. I can hear Wolff’s call in my head as I’m writing this column. “Fans if this is pulled out it will be one of the miracles of basketball, the Knicks’ comeback.”
When it was over, Bob did justice to the spectacular comeback win when he said, “It’s over, all over, the Knicks win 106-105,” Bob said, and then he ended the call, as he let his emotional side take over at just the right time (which is what a good broadcaster will do) when he said, “What a game! What a game!”
I was honored and proud to have been acknowledged by Bob in his book about broadcasters titled, “Bob Wolff’s Complete Guide to Sportscasting: How to Make It In Sportscasting With or Without Talent.” Bob mentioned how I was a radio sportscaster who was hired as a Major League Baseball accredited Official Scorer. At the time, that was unusual because no radio person had ever become a full time scorer in New York.
I remember a number of times when he would see me at the ballgame and ask, “Are you scoring today?” He would say it with curiosity because he really wanted to know the answer but also with a proud look that said “way to go radio guy.”
Bob knew my wife Kathy from her work as a news anchor at WCBS Newsradio 880 and always asked how she is doing. He stayed in touch with the medium and was always interested in those who worked in radio. He was very approachable and always had a kind word.
Bob Wolff was one of the many friends that I’ve made throughout my 38 year tenure in the business of sports journalism. I treasured out relationship. It was a joy to be around him.