Dick Stockton

From BR Bullpen

Richard Edward Stockton
born Richard Edward Stokvis

Biographical Information[edit]

Dick Stockton burst into national prominence during the 1975 World Series, when, as was the practice at the time, NBC added broadcasters from the two participating teams to its crew. Thus the Cincinnati Reds' Marty Brennaman and Ned Martin and Stockton from the Boston Red Sox announcing team got to work on a national stage. Martin was the Sox's radio play-by-play man, having worked in either radio or television for the team since 1961, while Stockton was in his first year of doing television broadcasts.

Born in Philadelphia, PA, Stockton grew up a New York Giants fan in Queens, NY. After attending Syracuse University, he began working in radio and television in his city of birth and within a short time was named sports director of KDKA-TV's Eyewitness News program in Pittsburgh, PA. In 1971, he moved to Boston, MA to work for the local NBC affiliate, WBZ, but soon left to take on various free lance assignments in the newly developing field of cable television. In 1974, he was persuaded by Gene Kirby, who had previously partnered with Dizzy Dean on the NBC Game of the Week, to audition for a vacancy as the Red Sox's television broadcaster. He had no baseball broadcasting experience at that point, and Kirby coached him thoroughly to get him ready for the audition, going over his mock broadcast tapes with a fine-tooth comb and pointing out what he should improve or correct. By the time the two had gone through seven tapes of games, Kirby was ready to recommend the young Stockton to the Red Sox brass, and he got the job.

He was coming in at a crucial time. The Red Sox had until then been broadcast on television on WBZ, which could carry a maximum of 60 games per season, given other programming commitments. In 1975, the contract moved to a UHF station, WSBK Channel 38, which could air many more games. His partner in the booth was Ken Harrelson, former Red Sox slugger who was also starting out in the business but would go on to an extremely long and successful career as an announcer as well. And the year was the magical 1975 season, which saw the Red Sox become the darlings of New England and make it all the way to the seventh game of the World Series. Thus, when he was tagged to help out on the NBC national telecasts in the Fall Classic, he was still a broadcasting rookie. It was the last year that NBC added local broadcasters to their series team (which otherwise was composed of Curt Gowdy, Joe Garagiola and Tony Kubek); starting in 1976, when NBC cut a deal with ABC to alternate World Series coverage and also share duties for the All-Star Game and League Championship Series, the two networks only used their own in-house announcers for the World Series. Brennaman thus joined the NBC booth for the games at Riverfront Stadium, and Stockton and Martin did so at Fenway Park (the Red Sox had insisted that both of their lead announcers be given the opportunity). As it turned out, Game 6, played at Fenway, is widely considered among the most thrilling baseball games ever staged, and Stockton had the honor to share its play-by-play with Gowdy, who was doing his last baseball broadcast. The audience for the game was 66 million, the fifth-largest sports television audience ever. Stockton became an overnight star.

He continued as the Red Sox's lead television announcer until the end of the 1978 season, his final game being the epic one-game playoff loss to the New York Yankees. During the Sox's late-season collapse, he had endured a lot of criticism, as New England's collective nerves had been frayed by watching the team's seemingly insurmountable 14-game lead turn into a three-and-half-game deficit. After the season, he decided to join CBS. However, he no longer broadcast baseball for a long spell, working instead on NFL and NBA telecasts, and as host of the Saturday afternoon Sports Spectacular. He finally returned to baseball in 1990, when CBS bought the rights to the "Game of the Week", forming a tandem with former pitcher Jim Kaat as the network's second pair of announcers. In 1994, he moved to Fox Sports after CBS lost its rights to broadcast NFL games to the then-upstart network. He also covered various and sundry other sports, included the Olympic Games. In 2003, after Fox had bought rights to baseball games, he once again became the announcer on the second team covering the "Game of the Week", an arrangement that lasted for a decade, before FOX decided to go with younger announcers.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Curt Smith: "Dick Stockton", in Bill Nowlin and Cecilia Tan, ed.: '75:The Red Sox Team that Saved Baseball, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2015, pp. 257-268. ISBN 978-1-933599-97-7

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