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Red Barber
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    (February 17, 1908-October 22, 1992)
    Born in Columbus, Mississippi
    Birth name was Walter Lanier Barber
    Play-by-play announcer for the Cincinnati Reds (1934-38), Brooklyn Dodgers (1939-53) and New York Yankees (1954-66)
    Sports director for CBS Radio (1946-55)
    Hosted the TV program 'Red Barber's Corner' (1949-58)
    Weekly contributor to NPR's 'Morning Edition' (1981-92)
    With Mel Allen, first recipients of the Baseball Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters (1978)
    He performed in black face in minstrel shows in high school and college.
    He said his first sports assignment, covering the University of Florida's opening game (1930), was 'undoubtedly the worst broadcast ever perpetrated on an innocent and unsuspecting radio audience.'
    When Branch Rickey confided his plans to break the color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson, Barber's first impulse was to quit his job. (His wife talked him out of it.)
    He hated switching from radio to TV: 'On radio, you're an artist. On TV, you're a servant.'
    He disliked sharing the broadcast booth with retired ballplayers.
    He was valedictorian of his high school class.
    He was married to Lylah Scarborough for 61 years.
    He was known for his colorful catchphrases like 'sitting in the catbird seat' and 'tighter than a new pair of shoes on a rainy day.'
    Chris Berman adopted Barber's 'back, back, back' call for a potential home run as a tribute.
    He kept a three-minute egg timer in the broadcast booth to remind himself to repeat the score frequently for listeners who had just tuned in.
    In a classic case of 'killing the messenger,' the Yankees fired him for highlighting the miserable attendance late in the 1966 season as the Yankees limped into last place for the first time in over 50 years: '[This] is the smallest crowd in the history of Yankee Stadium, and this crowd is the story, not the game.'
    'Morning Edition' host Bob Edwards said Barber's segment was 'the most popular feature of any program on public radio. For many listeners, Red was a reminder of a father, a grandfather, or a favorite uncle they had -- or wished they had.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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