Bob Wolff, Sportscaster for 8 Decades, Dies at 96

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Bob Wolff

He started out with baseball's old Washington Senators and did the play-by-play when the New York Knicks won their two NBA titles.

Bob Wolff, who spent eight decades as a sportscaster and provided the play-by-play when the New York Knicks captured their two NBA championships in the 1970s, has died. He was 96.

Wolff, who was inducted into the broadcasters wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995, died Saturday in South Nyack, N.Y., his son Rick told The New York Times.

The genial Wolff called the Knicks games when they won their NBA titles in 1969-70 and 1972-73, working alongside analyst Cal Ramsey, and did games for the NHL's New York Rangers as well. He was a fixture at Madison Square Garden events for some 50 years.

Wolff also worked for NBC and was in on the radio call when Don Larsen of the New York Yankees pitched a perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1956 World Series and the Baltimore Colts defeated the New York Giants in sudden-death overtime to take the NFL crown in 1958.

Until early this year, Wolff provided sports commentary for Long Island-based News 12, beginning that gig when the cable station launched in 1986.

The Guinness World Records credits him for having the "longest career as a sportscaster or broadcaster."

"Longevity comes with being a sportscaster,” Wolff told the New York Post in January. "It's amazing. … For one thing, it's fun. You're talking about a sport you like. … There's tension in the game but not tension in what you do."

Wolff also did the World Series on television in 1958 and 1961 and called the Stanley Cup Final, so he was the rare broadcaster to work the title games in all four major U.S. sports.

A native of New York City, Wolff attended Duke University and broadcast Blue Devils baseball games on the radio. He served in the Navy during World War II, then became the Senators' first TV broadcaster in 1947. (Maury Povich was his statistician.)

Wolff played the ukulele and once appeared with several Washington players on NBC's Today show. He was with the American League club through 1961, after the Senators moved to Minnesota and became the Twins.

Wolff, who also called games for the NBA's Detroit Pistons, donated about 1,000 hours of his work to the Library of Congress in 2013. Included are interviews he did with Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Connie Mack, Vince Lombardi, Jackie Robinson, Joe Louis, Jim Thorpe and Derek Jeter.

His memoir, It’s Not Who Won or Lost the Game — It’s How You Sold the Beer, was published in 1996. He's seen singing with the Senators in the book's cover photo.

Survivors also include his wife of more than 70 years, Joan. His son Rick hosts The Sports Edge show on Sunday mornings on WFAN radio.

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