Committee member Bob LeMoine has just penned a new biography of Ned Martin, the legendary Red Sox broadcaster who called the games for the club from 1961 through 1992 on both radio (WHDH; WMEX/WITS) and television (WHDH-TV, WSBK-TV, NESN). Martin called many of the Crimson Hose’s signature moments, including Carlton Fisk’s Game 6 walk-off home run in the 1975 World Series; Roger Clemens’ 20-strikeout game in 1986; and the entire “Impossible Dream” season of 1967.
We have posted the biography on our site here:
The biography also appears in the newly published SABR book, “’75: The Red Sox Team that Saved Baseball“, which is available for free download for all SABR members, or for purchase by generous members (in paperback) and non-members alike (download or paperback).
Here is a brief excerpt from LeMoine’s biography:
“Oh, Gertrude, when sorrows come they come not as single spies but in battalions.”
Hamlet, Act 4, Scene 5, a favorite quote of Ned Martin
when the Red Sox were having a particularly bad day.
“With this back and these knees? Mercy,” Ned Martin asked rhetorically, using his trademark exclamation when asked if he was going to dance the jitterbug at his 50th high-school reunion. Still, he and his classmates of the Upper Merion High School in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, Class of 1940, danced to the Big Band tunes of Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, and Harry James. Martin also reflected on his English teacher and his “old country school.” “Marie Wolfskill. Just an excellent English teacher in a little country school. … What a major role that woman played in my life. … it was largely because of her teaching I’ve been able to make my living through my use of the English language; it was because of her I developed a love for that language.”
Ned Martin could be called the Shakespeare of the broadcast booth, or baseball’s Hemingway scholar-in-residence. He could inject a broadcast at the right moment with literary quotes, poems, or song lyrics, while his catchphrase of “Mercy!” summed up many moments of Red Sox history. Red Sox radio announcer Joe Castiglione called Martin “the most literate of all broadcasters … a scholar of literature and a great Hemingway expert. He had a way of describing things very succinctly, honestly, and openly. He never interfered with an event.” Dave Weekley of the Charleston (West Virginia) Gazette recalled Martin’s “low-key quiet confidence … His delivery was easy on the ears and his renowned wit allowed him to refer to his beloved Shakespeare when the time was right.” Curt Gowdy called Martin “a highly intelligent guy with a great vocabulary and a good voice.”
A Red Sox announcer for 32 years, Martin also served his country in World War II, celebrating victory at Iwo Jima. But he was most at home behind the radio microphone, where his mastery of language painted pictures in the minds of his listeners. “Active verbs are really helpful. It isn’t an awful thing to have a vocabulary and use it,” Martin remarked.
Those active verbs could be a ball “caroming” off the wall or “lofted” over it; a lead was “tenuous,” and fans “vociferous.” Home runs were “long gone and hard to find.” The aging Gaylord Perry was called “sparsely thatched” on top. He would greet fans during a West Coast game with “Hello, wherever you may be at this ungodly hour,” or sum up a poor Red Sox performance with “‘It was death in the afternoon,’ as Hemingway would have said.” Martin’s rich usage of literature gave us calls like “So the little children shall lead them as rookies Rice and Lynn have driven in all of the Red Sox runs,” and it is often his descriptions Red Sox fans remember when reliving moments of Red Sox history from the 1960s through the early 1990s.
(Continue reading here.)