Well-known broadcaster Ray Scott who was born in Johnstown Pa, but raised in Connellsville, was in the broadcast booth. In 1997 when the Packers returned to the Super Bowl against New England in Super Bowl XXXI after a hiatus of 29 years, I had Scott on my talk show and he reminisced about his great broadcasting career and growing up in Connellsville.
“My three siblings – a brother and two sisters were born in Johnstown,” Scott recalled. “That’s where I went to grade school. My father was a B&O railroad brakeman. When the depression hit the train he was working on – that operated between Johnstown and the mainline in Somerset County – he was taken off that train and he wound up in Connellsville.
“That’s where I went to high school. While I was in high school I got the broadcasting bug. I was a would be athlete with no ability and that’s why I wound in sports broadcasting.”
Scott tried to get into radio when he graduated from Connellsville High School in 1936.
“I graduated when I was 16,” Scott stated. “During the depression I worked at odd jobs for about a year and during that year I was pestering radio stations. There were no schools in those days for broadcasting.
“As the old saying goes whatever you did you did by the seat of your pants. In fact a letter offering me my first job came from back in Johnstown. The letter said I am hiring you more to get rid of you than anything else.
“I’ve often said he was the most honest man I ever worked for in all my years of broadcasting. In that letter he offered and paid me $55 dollars a month. Even in the depression it was a little tough to live on that for long.
“But I went to work there in 1937 and I was fortunate that I knew at an early age what I wanted to do, and except for when I was in the service – that’s what I did.”
Scott got his first break when he took a job in Pittsburgh at WCAE – the forerunner of WTAE.
“I was in Johnstown for about four years and then I went into the service for almost five years,” Scott said. “I went back to Johnstown for one year and frankly I was very ambitious. By this time I was married and I kept trying to get involved with a station in Pittsburgh.
“WCAE Radio finally hired me. I went there as a staff announcer, but I quickly talked them into doing a daily sports show and then I convinced them it would be perfectly okay if I did Carnegie Tech football.”
Scott then began to make inroads in the Pittsburgh market.
“I did Carnegie Tech football on a station in McKeesport for a couple of years,” Scott explained. “Television was rearing its head and I wanted to get involved. The TV stations had made a pact to keep those of us who worked on their radio stations off TV.
“I left WCAE and went to work for a Pittsburgh advertising agency for about two years. I free lanced in radio at the same time. I wound up working in Pittsburgh 14 years in radio and television. I did Pitt football on radio and Duquesne basketball – some on radio and some on television.”
Scott got a big break when Pitt played Georgia Tech in the 1956 Sugar Bowl.
“What made that significant was the tremendous outpouring of media to cover that game,” Scott offered. “Pitt had one black player – Bobby Grier. He was a fine running back and in those days played both ways as a defensive back. There was a flap because of the Georgia governor, but they played the game.
“ABC had the rights to the game and they didn’t know who I was so in order to assure themselves a bigger audience they hired the late Bill Stern to do half the game and I was to do the other half.
“Well, Stern didn’t show up until two minutes before we went on television. He was to do the first and third quarters and I was to do the second and the fourth. Bill was totally out of it. He had the wrong numbers when he went on the air and the wrong records, wrong everything.
The producers who scarcely knew me – whispered you’ve got to take over. I said you’ve got to tell him something. Whatever they told him, Stern said something like – 'Ray you know this Pitt team and I’ll be back later.'
“Of course he never did come back. He revealed a short time after he had been a hard core drug addict for almost 19 years.”
Scott’s first NFL broadcasts came in 1953 over the DuMont Television Network.
“DuMont is no longer in existence,” he said. “I sold the plan to Westinghouse consumer product division and the plan was the idea of former Pittsburgh Steelers PR director Ed Kiely. We moved one game to Saturday night and it lasted two years and I broadcast the games for one season.”
In 1956 CBS became involved with pro football and the rest is history.
“I was hired in 1956 to do the Green Bay Packers,” Scott explained. “I never lived in Green Bay when I did the games there. I commuted from Pittsburgh six years. I wanted very much to do major league baseball, but my best friend in the business was Bob Prince – so I knew it wasn’t going to happen in Pittsburgh because of Bob and I admired him a lot.
“I got an opportunity when the Washington Senators moved to Minneapolis to become the Twins and I became their first broadcaster and that’s when I moved to Minneapolis for six years.
“I continued doing the Packers and working for CBS. After 12 years of doing the Packers, CBS fired half of the announcers. I was one of the lucky ones that hung on. For two years the late Paul Christman and I did the games.
“After he died suddenly – that’s when Pat Summerall and I teamed together. We were together until CBS and I parted company. I spent 18 years with CBS.”
Getting the Packer gig was a plum job at the time. Vince Lombardi came on the scene and the Packers turned into champions.
“When Lombardi arrived they darned near tied for the Western Division title his first year,” Scott recalled. “Paul Hornung missed a couple of chip shot field goals in Baltimore or they would have tied the Colts and Bears in Lombardi’s first year.
“In 1960 they won the west and lost to Norm Van Brocklin and the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL Championship game. Then in 1961 they started their amazing run.”
In 1961 the Packers won the championship beating the Giants, 37-0. In 1962 they beat the Giants,16-7 in the title game. They returned to the championship game in 1965 beating Cleveland, 23-12. The won the title in 1966 beating Dallas, 34-27 and then beat Dallas in the famed 1967 “Ice Bowl”, 21-17.
“In those days each team’s announcer did half the game,” Scott explained. “The game in Dallas the year before where the weather was good and the field was good, the winner went on to play in the first Super Bowl against Kansas City.
“Jack Buck did the first half and I did the second half. At the “Ice Bowl” I did the first half and Jack did the second half. After it was over I was to interview the winning team.
“There was no press elevator in those days and I went down through the stands and was along side the Packer bench when the ball changed hands and what turned out to be the winning drive got under way. Needless to say that drive by the Packers was the greatest triumph of will over adversity that I’ve ever seen in an athletic contest.
“Not one pass was dropped – not one fumble and the players' hands were like pieces of ice. On the final drive the players said the look in Bart Starr’s eyes told them they were going to score.”
Scott called four Super Bowls and nine NFL title games and recalls the first Super Bowl actually called the AFL-NFL World Championship Game. It was the only championship game broadcast by both networks.
“The competition between the networks might have been more furious than the competition between the teams,” Scott stated. “Down on the sidelines the technicians, I don’t know if they got into fistfights, but they came close to it.
“Two of my best friends were down there – Charlie Jones was the sideline broadcaster for NBC and Pat Summerall was the sideline broadcaster for CBS. The analyst with me for the first two Super Bowls was Frank Gifford.
“There were 30,000 fans and most people didn’t think it would be any sort of contest. Lombardi knew Kansas City had some great individual personnel, but Green Bay prevailed easily.”
After leaving CBS Scott was subsequently employed by a number of NFL and MLB teams. Scott also broadcast college football, college basketball and golf at various points in his career.
Scott was twice named National Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, and was given regional awards by that organization 12 times in four different states. In 2000 he was posthumously given the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Scott passed away in 1998 at the age of 78.
The words still ring clear after all these years “Starr … Dowler … touchdown. No excess verbiage. TV Guide wrote of Scott – “Not all veteran fans remember him. Credit it to the fact he was simply too good at what he did, which was to use his voice with the range and subtlety of a concert violinist.
When in a mercilessly tight game, Scott intoned, slowly, profoundly, simply, ‘first down Green Bay,’ a million spines would quiver.