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Sports Broadcaster Curt Gowdy Dies at 86

Curt Gowdy, one of the signature voices of sports for a generation and the longtime broadcaster for the Boston Red Sox, died Monday at 86.

He died in Palm Beach after a long battle with leukemia, Red Sox spokeswoman Pam Ganley said.

Gowdy made his broadcasting debut in 1944 and went on to call 13 World Series and 16 All-Star games.

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In 1951 Gowdy became main play-by-play voice on the Red Sox broadcast team. He left the Red Sox in 1966 for a 10-year stint as "Game of the Week" announcer for NBC. He was also the longtime host of the "American Sportsman" series.

"He's certainly the greatest play-by-play person up to this point that NBC sports has ever had," NBC Universal Sports chairman Dick Ebersol said Monday. "He literally carried the sports division at NBC for so many year on his back. ... He was a remarkable talent and he was an even more remarkable human being."

Red Sox player John Pesky, speaking from Red Sox training camp in Fort Myers, Fla., remembered Pesky as "a peach of a guy."

Pesky said Gowdy was always in the clubhouse before games and always eager to talk.

"He was really easy to speak to," he said.

The award winning broadcast journalist began his career in Cheyenne, Wyo. in 1944 standing on a milk crate, giving a football play-by-play in sub-zero temperatures.

By 1949 he was calling games for the New York Yankees and two years later he began calling games for the Red Sox.

In his 1960 essay "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu" published in The New Yorker, John Updike said Gowdy sounded like "everybody's brother-in-law."

For his familiarity, good humor and enthusiastic broadcast style, Gowdy has been honored with dozens of awards. He was inducted into the American Sportscaster's Hall of Fame in 1985 and in 1971 the Curt Gowdy State Park was established Wyoming.