Posts Tagged ‘Bill White’

“Part of a Yankee telecast on WPIX TV, Channel 11 from 1986. Bill White and Phil Rizzuto broadcast a 4th inning rain delay as the Yankees played the Twins at Yankee Stadium.”

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This blog post is a piece I wrote for the “Pinch Hitter Series” over at The LoHud Yankees Blog. I want to thank Yankees beat writer Chad Jennings for giving me the opportunity to participate. I have a great appreciation for the rich history of this great franchise, and I thought it would be great to pay tribute to one of it’s finest characters. Here is the uncut version of my entry:

“Hello there, everybody!” That’s one of the many catchphrases you might have heard by Melvin Allen Israel during his Yankees broadcasts. He was born on February 14, 1913, in Birmingham, Alabama. His love for the game of baseball as a young boy would play a big role in his life.

The future sportscaster attended the University of Alabama where he was a member of Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity as an undergraduate. He served as the public address announcer at Alabama football games. In 1933, Birmingham’s WBRC was in need of a new play-by-play announcer and Alabama coach Frank Thomas suggested Israel to fill the position. It was his first job behind the microphone. Israel’s first broadcast was Alabama’s home opener that year, against Tulane. He went on to earn a law degree from Alabama, but that wasn’t a major priority in his life. His boyhood love for baseball led him to become first a sports columnist and then a radio announcer.

Soon after graduating from Alabama in 1937, Allen took a train to New York City for a vacation, and he never turned back. While on vacation, he auditioned for the CBS Radio Network as a staff announcer. They already knew about him, as the network’s top sportscaster, Ted Husing, had heard many of his Crimson Tide broadcasts. They hired him at $45 a week. In his first year at CBS, he announced the crash of the Hindenburg. CBS suggested that Mel go by a different on-air last name, so he chose Allen, his father’s middle name. He legally changed his last name to Allen in 1943. That week’s vacation became 60 years. He settled in New York and lived in the metro area for many years. (more…)

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