Friday, April 25, 2008

Don Gillis...RIP

Don Gillis passed away at the age of 85. For those of you who don't remember him, he was one of the most recognizable and loved voices of the Red Sox and all Boston media, including the magic of 1967. Here's what I'd like you to do. Please read this...from Scott Gray of WTIC AM1080, the Connecticut Red Sox home for almost 50 years...
Friday, April 25th 2008 - Sports Commentary

"I never met Don Gillis, but I felt like I knew the legendary Boston sportscaster most of my life. It was impossible to grow up in New England during the second half of the twentieth century and not know Don Gillis, not feel like he was a personal friend, so genuine and comfortable was his on air style. By all accounts from close acquaintances who did know him well he was in real life what you believed him to be watching him ply his trade, a wonderful man with a pleasant personality always willing to help a young up and comer. My own memories of Gillis stretch back to the late 1950's, when he filled in for an ailing Curt Gowdy on Red Sox broadcasts. By the early sixties he was established as THE man at the, then, television home of the Red Sox, WHDH-TV, Channel 5 in Boston. It was an era when those in our business really did work for a living. Today video tape and digital sound make it possible to replay clips and sound bites within a matter of seconds. Then it was almost a miracle to have film from even local games on the air the next day. Gillis was one of those guys who previewed every clip himself so that he knew them so well he would get them to the air first with his own unscripted overdub. By 1967 every die hard sports fan in New England knew Don Gillis, not only for his sportscasts and field reports, but for his relaxed, folksy, but always professional manner on WHDH's Saturday morning bowling shows. Those who weren't familiar with him by then soon came to embrace Gillis as well as he chronicled the Red Sox miracle season of '67, from the 100-1 shot team they were in spring training through the "Series that nobody lost". Who can ever forget the classic shot of Don Gillis ducking a foul pop up in front of the Red Sox dugout during a live pre game standup, all the while never skipping a beat? It was Gillis who hosted the WHDH video version of the memorable season wrap up, "The Impossible Dream". Through most of the remainder of the twentieth century Don Gillis was the standard bearer for sportscasting in Beantown. The humility and humanity of the man came through in every appearance on the air. Don Gillis passed away peacefully at home yesterday at the age of eighty five. He hasn't been a regular presence on Boston television for several years, but knowing he maintained his continuing role as the godfather of the Boston sports media was like having a Don Gillis nightlight, casting a comfortable glow to show the way through the growing darkness to truth and balance in sports reporting. There are few cities in this great nation as rich in history as Boston, which certainly has a richer sports history than most. Don Gillis will survive in the memories of long time New England sports fans as one of the richest parts of that history. With a comment from the sports world, I'm Scott Gray."

PETER here, and thank you Scott Gray, and most of all, thank you, Don Gillis. Rest in peace. It was fun, wasn't it?


At 4/25/2008 12:07 PM, Blogger Rooster said...

Nicely done!

At 4/25/2008 12:55 PM, Blogger Peter N said...

Thank you, Rooster. I mean that!

At 4/25/2008 9:43 PM, Blogger Gerry said...

Don also hosted "Candlepins for Cash" for years. If you grew up in the Boston area, it was a "must watch" on Saturdays. He made Stasia Czernicki a legend of the lanes. But he is a legend of the airwaves.

At 4/26/2008 5:22 AM, Blogger Peter N said...

When I heard Scott read his commentary, Gerry, I knew I had to run it here. Very moving. I have the original TV special THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM with Don and Ken Coleman on DVD. If you ever want to borrow it, I'll give it to Keisha. Let me know, Gerry. Pete


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