In the grand scheme of life baseball is not all that important. I know that sounds weird coming from a guy with a baseball themed blog, but its true. Sometimes we make it more important than it truly is for whatever reasons we choose. When it comes down to it what to we remember the most? Is it a spectacular game, great play or the people themselves that make it special. For me it has always been the personal attachment you get to a team that makes it special. There are certain voices in the dark, that have come into our homes night after night that become part of your family. Tonight’s book is in remembrance of one of those voices that went silent today at age 91.
Bill Campbell The Voice of Philadelphia Sports
By:Sam Carchidi 2006
For those of you who live outside of Philadelphia you may not be as familiar with his work as those who have lived in the area. Bill Campbell, “the Dean of Philadelphia sports”, was a well deserved and cherished title. He was witness to some amazing sporting events throughout his career which spanned back to 1939. Even through trials and tribulations he handled any adversity with grace and dignity which became his trademark until the very end.
Campbell was a well-rounded, knowledgeable announcer, covering Basketball, Football as well as Baseball. He has been inducted into various Halls of Fame and was a voice in the night to generations of sports fans. Thousands of Philadelphia kids went to bed at night with their transistor radios on and that distinctive voice keeping them abreast of their heroes triumphs. Bill witnessed so many amazing Philadelphia sporting events that it is almost hard to comprehend. He saw Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-Point game, The last Eagles championship in 1960 and of course the season ending collapse of the 1964 Phillies. For me as a Philly sports fan, those three things alone are bigger than everything combined that I will ever see in sports in my lifetime.
As great as Campbell’s career was there is one sad note. As a baseball blog I feel compelled to mention it. That is the unceremonious dumping of Bill from the Phillies broadcast team to be replaced with future Hall of Famer Harry Kalas. Now we all know Kalas went on to an incredible career of his own, but the way the Phillies handled it was pretty crappy! I have never seen written anywhere of Mr Campbell ever uttering a bad word towards the Phillies in regards to his firing. To the contrary, he almost seems hurt at the way it happened.
Sam Carchidi does an incredible job of chronicling Campbell’s career in this book. Throughout the entire book you feel like you are just listening to an old friend tell a story. It’s almost as if he is too modest to even want to tell his story, but you do hear some underlying pride in his career as the stories come forward. If you have any interest in Philadelphia sports I can not recommend this book enough. The author and the subject make an incredible pair and bring the stories to life. You will not be disappointed!
On a personal note, I collect autographs through the mail. I wrote to Mr Campbell earlier this year and asked him to sign a picture of himself during his Phillies announcing days. On the back of that picture he wrote “the Phillies family has been very kind to me through the years”. How do you not respect a man who after they screwed him over, he still has the utmost respect for them. To me that showed true class and people like that are hard to find in this day and age. Also his daughter Christine found my parents phone number somehow and left a very nice message about how her father was honored that someone remembered him. Quite to the contrary Mr Campbell. We are honored you chose to share your life and talent with us, and the void will be impossible to fill. The last of the great ones is now gone.
Godspeed Soupy- Rest in Peace