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In Memoriam: Bob Wolff, Broadcast Legend and Voice of Washington Senators

TV pioneer interviewed some of sports’ greatest figures

Bob Wolff, the pioneering television voice of the Washington Senators, started in radio in 1939. His career is the longest of any sportscaster in broadcast history. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Bob Wolff, the pioneering television voice of the Washington Senators, started in radio in 1939. His career is the longest of any sportscaster in broadcast history. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It was the understatement of Bob Wolff’s career, under the circumstances.

“I do get very verbose,” Wolff said on April 26, 2013, the day the legendary sportscaster donated decades’ worth of his interviews with sports’ greatest figures to the Library of Congress

Wolff, the longtime voice of the longtime hapless Washington Senators, died on July 15 at the age of 96. His play-by-play work for Washington’s baseball team was just one part of a career that spanned nine decades.

He provided the recording materials that the world’s largest library coveted, including of the likes of Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Jim Thorpe, Rocky Marciano and even other cultural figures such as Richard Nixon and Bob Hope. 

Wolff started his career in radio in 1939. He called some of the most iconic contests ever, including pitcher Don Larsen’s perfect World Series game for the New York Yankees in 1956, and the 1958 NFL championship game between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants.

At the April 2013 event at the Library of Congress, Wolff had some fun describing the challenge of calling games for 15 years for some truly wretched Senators teams. 

“I played up the artistry of the game,” he said to chuckles, even as present-day reminders of the current Washington baseball team’s success were present, including current play-by-play men Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler and Nationals mascot William Howard Taft of the Racing Presidents.

One of the Washington Nationals mascots, William Howard Taft of the Racing Presidents, at an event for Wolff at the Library of Congress in April 2013. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
One of the Washington Nationals mascots, William Howard Taft of the Racing Presidents, at an event for Wolff at the Library of Congress in April 2013. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As James H. Billington, the librarian of Congress at the time, said at the 2013 event, “Sports and sporting events have a way of bringing people together.”

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