May 27, 2015

Original Mets Broadcaster: Lindsey Nelson (1962-1978)

Lindsey Nelson was born May 25, 1919 in Campbellsville, Tennessee. Nelson attended the University of Tennessee , graduating in 1941 & would forever be linked to that school.

After serving as an Army Captain during World War II, he became an English teacher & then a newspaper writer. In 1948 he broke into broadcasting, with his deep southern drawl, by being the first announcer to cover the play by play of games at the University of Tennessee.

Next he was hired as an administrator at NBC & was doing baseball broadcasts by 1957. He worked there for ten years, without a contract & without being represented by an agent.

From there it was on to CBS, where he would work NFL football Games for nineteen years. Nelson's great football calls also led him to do the play-by-play for the Cotton Bowl for 25 seasons. He was also the voice of Notre Dame Football for 13 seasons as well as a Monday Night Football radio broadcaster from 1974-1977.

Nelson is remembered for being the announcer during the first NFL game, on CBS, to feature the use of "instant replay", which he had to explain repeatedly during the game, reminding viewers that "this is not live."

Lindsey Nelson was also famous for his "loud" psychedelic-colored plaid sports jackets. "We were going to be televising 120 games in color. Nelson said; “I walked into a New York clothing store and told the clerk, 'Let me see all the old jackets you can't sell.'' He brought out seven, and I bought all of them.”

Nelson claimed he owned 335 of the multi colored jackets at one point in time. Those jackets often clashed with the back ground set and his surroundings, in the early days of color the television technology. New York Mets:


Mets Career: In 1962, Nelson was the experienced broadcaster the new expansion Mets needed to help bring the game to the fans. ,Nelson was to do both radio and television play by play, with former Pirates slugger Ralph Kiner and young broadcaster from Boston, Bob Murphy.

Quotes: Lindsey Nelson- "It was my job to set the broadcast policy. I told our broadcast team, 'This is a very inept group of players, and we're not going to try to hide their ineptness. We're also not going to make fun of them.' We simply described what they did, and what they did was hilarious."

His signature sign on was “Hello everybody, this is Lindsey Nelson & welcome to Shea Stadium in New York". His voice has become legendary to Met fans from the Mets glory days of the late sixties & early seventies. His professional call of the game was always flowing & interesting, with a burst of excitement when something really special happened. Nelson brought that excitement to the Mets during their early years, with his calls of the game, even though the team didn't win too much.

After the years of bad baseball, he was on hand for the arrival of Tom Seaver in 1967. Two years later he was on hand for the Amazing 1969 season.

He did the National World Series broadcast on NBC with the great Curt Gowdy for the Mets home games during that run. He got to make the call for one of Tommie Agee's great catches in centerfield in Game #3, Tom Seaver's victory in Game #4 & the comeback win in Game #5 to win it.


Bud Harrelson- Mayor Lindsay- Nelson-
Ron Swoboda & Rod Gaspar
He was in the locker room, doing interviews for the network in a shower of champagne enjoying the Mets finest moment defining the Amazing Mets.

In 1973 he was on hand for the Mets incredible September run to catch the pennant in the year of "You Gotta Believe". He made the final call of the NLCS Pennant as the Mets headed to their second World Series.

After working with the Mets through the mid seventies, he became unhappy with the way the once great organization was now being run. The team was in chaos after it's principal owner; Joan Payson passed away. The club was passed down to her daughter, Lorinda De Roulet, who let the teams Chaiman; M. Donald Grant run all baseball operations. Grant destroyed everything, refusing to give in to the new era of free agency & drove Tom Seaver out of town.

Witnessing all of this, Nelson felt it was time to move on. He took the team by surprise in 1978, when he announced it would be his last season broadcasting in New York.

After being with the team since it's inception in 1962, his 17 year association with the Mets ended. In 1979 when he moved on to work for the San Francisco Giants, doing broadcasts there through 1981.

After that stint, Nelson did CBS radio broadcasts for MLB into the late eighties. In August, 1985 he was hired by WPIX Channel 11, when former Mets ace, Tom Seaver (now with the Chicago White Sox) went for his 300th victory, in the A.L. New York's club ballpark. WPIX had Nelson call the final half-inning of Seaver's history-making day. It was almost like the good old days.

Honors: Nelson's honors include earning the Ford C. Frick Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988. He was inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame along with Kiner & Murphy in 1984.

He also is in the National Sportscasters Hall of Fame in North Carolina (1979) , the American Sportscasters Hall of Fame (1986). He has won the Pete Rozelle Radio-TV Award from the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1990) and a lifetime Emmy Award (1991). The baseball stadium for the University of Tennessee Volunteers is named Lindsey Nelson Stadium in his honor.

Retirement: After his retirement from active broadcasting he moved to Knoxville, Tennessee to an apartment across the Tennessee River from the University of Tennessee campus from which he had a view of Neyland Stadium, the Volunteers home field, and wrote an autobiographical memoir.

Passing: In his final years, Nelson suffered from Parkinson's disease. He passed away due to complications of that disease on June 10th, 1995 in Atlanta Georgia, at age 76.

Quotes: Upon his passing long time colleague Bob Murphy said: He had no tolerance for mistakes, He was totally reliable. I don't think he was late once in his whole life." Ralph Kiner added: "He had a great enthusiasm for the job, He was a tremendous guy to work for. We were very close. It was more or less like a family."



In the words of Lindsey Nelson himself: "The game is the important thing. The announcer should never get in the way of the game."

 

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