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Mel Allen

(1913 - 1996)

One of the first great American sportscasters, Mel Allen (Melvin Allen Israel) was the "Voice of the New York Yankees" baseball team, from 1939 to 1964. In 1978, he and fellow sportscaster Red Barber were the first to be honored with the Ford Frick Award, Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame recognition for broadcasters.

Allen was born on February 14, 1913, in Birmingham, Alabama. He was educated as a lawyer. He broadcast New York Giant baseball games from 1939 to 1943, 20 World Series, 24 All-Star baseball games, and a season of Cleveland Indians baseball games (1968); as well as 14 Rose Bowl games, two Orange Bowls, two Sugar Bowls, and countless other major sporting events.

Allen was present for nearly every major Yankees' event from Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak (1941) to Roger Maris' record breaking 61 home runs (1961). It was Allen who introduced Lou Gehrig to a packed Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939, preceding his historic: Today, I am the luckiest man in the world farewell; and in 1948, introduced a stricken Babe Ruth at his sad 1948 adieu. He dubbed DiMaggio Joltin' Joe, Tommy Henrich Old Reliable, and Phil Rizzuto The Scooter. His endearing signature phrase was: How about that!

Allen came out of retirement in l978 to call the New York cable TV coverage of Yankee games (through 1985), and served as host of the long-running weekly television series: "This Week In Baseball", nearly until his death.

A winner of numerous industry, listener and viewer awards, Allen was elected to the National (USA) Sportswriters and Broadcasters Hall of Fame, in March, 1972. In 1985, Allen was inducted into the American Sportscasters Hall of Fame.

Sources: International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame