Mel Allen: A True New York Yankee

September 23, 2011   ·     ·   Jump to comments
Article Source: Bleacher Report - New York Yankees

Many years ago, a cable station named Sportschannel carried about 40 New York Yankees’ games each season. The announcer was Mel Allen.

“Hello, everybody, this is Mel Allen!” is the way he would greet his listeners, either at the start of the broadcast or after taking over for a colleague who has announced the first portion of the game.

In June, 1938, Yankees’ radio broadcaster Garnett Marks did a commercial for Ivory Soap. He referred to it as “Ovary Soap” twice and was gone. Mel Allen was hired.

The following season, Allen became both the Yankees and the New York Giants’ lead voice. Only the home games were broadcast.

Just as John Sterling, who is really Harold Moskowitz, changed his name, so did Melvin Israel, who used his father’s middle name to become Mel Allen.

One day in 1940, Lou Gehrig, who would soon pass away, approached Mel. It was one of the most significant moments in Mel Allen’s life. Gehrig said to him,

“Mel, I never got a chance to listen to your games before, because I was playing every day. But I want you to know they’re the only thing that keeps me going.”

After Gehrig left, Mel cried.

Mel Allen was a Yankee through and through, but he wasn’t obnoxious like John Sterling. “I’ve always been partisan, but not prejudiced, and there’s a difference.”

Allen named Joe DiMaggio ‘Joltin’ Joe. He was the one who originated the often imitated, “It’s going, going, gone!”

I remember vividly listening to Mel on a Sunday afternoon, the season that a powerful left-handed Detroit Tigers’ slugger named Charlie Maxwell had been destroying the opposition with home runs on almost every Sunday. It was as if Mel were waiting for Maxwell to connect. He did.

Now, Mel Allen described the action as it happened. He gave listeners a real pitch-by-pitch, play-by-play account. But this time, in a very un-Mel Allen way, he told me that, “the pitcher delivers and there it is.”

I turned off the radio. It was the only time I ever was upset with Mel Allen. Sometimes, he tried too hard to not be pro-Yankees.

After 1964, new Yankees’ owners CBS fired him without ever, and that means ever, explaining their actions.

There was speculation that Allen was talking too much. The Yankees and sponsor Ballantine Beer felt that he didn’t cut to a commercial soon enough. The real story has never been made public.

But in 1976, George M. Steinbrenner brought Mel back for Old Timers’ Day and then to Sportshannel. George Steinbrenner never forgot.

He said that he returned Mel Allen to the Yankees because, in 1955, Mel spoke for over an hour to a young man, advising him how to become a broadcaster. Of course, Mel was speaking to a young George Steinbrenner.

When a reporter asked Mel Allen how he wanted to be remembered, he thought for a minute before responding.

“That I was one of the best,” he said. “And you know what else you can put down? He loved people and hoped they liked him “

They sure did.


Taaffe, William. “A Ballantine Blast From the Past.” Sports Illustrated. 15 Apr. 1985.

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  1. luis on July 27th, 2014 3:07 am



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