|Cubs Broadcast History - Page 5|
|Written by Ken|
|Thursday, 26 July 2007 12:18|
Page 5 of 12
WARTIME AND BIG BERT
When Elson went into the Navy during World War II, Bert Wilson took his place on the Cubs airwaves. Wilson remains among the more charismatic announcers the North Siders have ever had.
A genial, gigantic bear of a man, Wilson used to claim that “I don’t care who wins, as long as it’s the Cubs!” He was an eternal optimist, and a frequent butt of jokes from Sox fan/writer Gene Shepherd:
And they had this big fat clown of announcer sayin’ “The Cubs are gonna have a great year, the Cubs are gonna have a great year…”
Wilson, excitable and highly partisan, was so popular that when Elson returned to Chicago after the war, he was reassigned exclusively to the then-moribund White Sox, for whom he announced through 1970 before taking a job in Oakland for one year. (Elson then retired.)
By 1944, the days of multiple stations broadcasting games were gone. Radio was such a high-profit industry that stations wanted exclusivity, and the Cubs were happy to hand over the rights to a single bidder. In 1944, WJJD—in a surprise—came in with the high bid. (WGN regained the rights in 1958 and have held them ever since.)
Bert Wilson worked alone on WJJD through 1949, doing all nine innings of all 154 games, home and road, though even after the war, the radio team was still re-creating some road games and didn’t end that practice until the early fifties. Talk about a heavy schedule!
In 1950, Bud Campbell was hired as Wilson’s sidekick. Meanwhile, the Cubs, following World War II, sank into a 20-year pit of misery. From 1946 through 1966, they finished above .500 only twice. Wilson saw far more losses than wins during his years behind the mike at Wrigley Field.
And the constant travel took a toll on the big man. He had to miss two weeks of action in 1952 due to high blood pressure, and Wilson announced in September 1955 that he would resign from WJJD at the end of the season.
He had planned to take on a lighter schedule for 1956, telecasting 53 Cincinnati Reds games. Wilson, however, had suffered from heart trouble for quite a while, and died on November 5, 1955, in Mesa, Arizona.
The new Cubs voice was Jack Quinlan, who had come on board in 1953 as a third man. Quinlan was friendly and talkative, and worked well with other soon-to-be-famous voices like Gene Elston (with the Cubs from 1954–57) and Milo Hamilton (1956–57).
Generally believed to be one of the rising stars in sports broadcasting during the early 1960s, Quinlan reigned as top dog on Cubs radio during some of the franchise’s worst seasons. During the late 50s and early 60s, optimism and Ernie Banks were the only things Cubs fans had.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 26 July 2007 12:31|