There are few radio personalities as familiar as the voice of the Dodgers, who has announced many baseball All-Star games and World Series. He spoke to Register correspondent G.E. Devine.
G.E. Devine: You've been inducted into the broadcast wing of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, Pa. The Dodgers have named a press box after you. How do you feel about that praise?
I'm just overwhelmed with gratitude that I'm still alive and doing the job I love.
Any voice that I do have I know is God-given. Any ability I have was originally given by God, and I'm very aware of that. I've tried to improve on the gift as best I can. I don't take it for granted, by any means. I know that I could lose it just as quickly as I was given it. Consequently, I don't have any feelings except great thankfulness for the success I've had in the business.
For the youngsters, I would say: Whatever your gift might be, remember where it came from. Cherish it and develop it to the best of your ability.
What is the most important message you want to share with people, both young and old, about your Catholic faith?
I don't know if I could single one out. I do know that, when you get on your knees, it's a perfect position to be in to put things in proper perspective. It helps me more than anything else. Whether it helps others, I don't know; maybe they do it in their own way. I would encourage all of us, though, to take time to get on our knees. It lets you know where you are, who you are, what you're doing, whom you belong to, where it's all coming from and, eventually, where it's all going.
You came west with the Dodgers after growing up in New York. What part of that city did you come from?
I graduated from Incarnation School in Manhattan, under the Sisters of Charity. One of the nuns who took really good care of me was Sister Virginia Maria.
When I was 8 or 9, I had written a composition saying I wanted to be a sports announcer. When Sister read that she made sure that every day I would stand and read aloud to the class. So, even in those early days, the nuns made a contribution and steered me in the right way.
Are their other religious or clergy you remember who influenced you?
Oh, yes, there were a good number. There was one priest, Father Sullivan, when I was an altar boy at Incarnation. He was a wondrous man. In high school, there was Father Joseph O'Connell, the president of Fordham Prep.
I was representing the school in an elocution contest. Father asked me what I was wearing and I told him: a blue suit, white shirt, blue tie and oxblood cordovan shoes.
He said “You should wear black!”
I said “I don't have black shoes!” He said, “OK, be in my office after school tomorrow!” I went into his office after school and there must have been — so help me — 30 or 40 pair of black shoes on the rug in front of his desk. He had gone to all the good Jesuits on the campus and gotten their shoes, because he didn't know my size. I sat like Cinderella in his office, trying on black shoes until I got a pair that fit! I wore them representing the school.
Also, I remember Father Victor Yanitelli, another Jesuit who was a novice when I first met him. He eventually became president of St. Peter's College in Jersey City. He and I were very close. He was a 140-pound running back, so you can imagine what kind of a guy he was! Along the way there have been a lot of people who have given me a boost and a push in the right direction.