Broadcast legend Blattner dead at 89
Ex-Major Leaguer was original voice of Royals on radio
KANSAS CITY -- Buddy Blattner, the Royals' original radio broadcaster, died of complications of lung cancer on Friday at his home in Chesterfield, Mo., near St. Louis. He was 89.
Blattner, who also joined the Angels in their second season of 1962, was remembered with a moment of silence before the two clubs met on Friday night at Kauffman Stadium.
A former light-hitting Major League infielder, Blattner played with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1942 and, after three years in the Navy during World War II, had stints with the New York Giants from 1946-48 and the Philadelphia Phillies in 1949. His career average was .247.
It was in the announcing booth that the mellow-voiced Blattner made his mark. He began with the Liberty Game of the Day in 1949, and he also called games for the Mutual, ABC, CBS and NBC networks as well as for the St. Louis Browns, Cardinals and Angels.
"He was a pioneer, one of the first guys that went from the field to the booth," current Royals broadcaster Denny Matthews said. "You'll remember he was with the Falstaff Game of the Week with Dizzy Dean."
Blattner was noted for his collaboration with Dean, the colorful Hall of Fame pitcher noted for saying "He slud into third," on early network telecasts.
He was with the expansion Angels from 1962 to 1968. In 1969, he joined the expansion Royals until his retirement in 1975. His first partner in the Kansas City booth was Matthews, then just out of college.
"He was not only a coach but a mentor and a father figure in a way -- he was my dad's age," Matthews said. "He just took a young guy and showed me around the league and introduced me to the right people. He told me what player was a good interview and what player wouldn't say much -- he really just showed me the way."
Blattner, who was born in St. Louis in 1920, was a laid-back guy.
"He loved to stay up late after the games and he'd get a little group in his room -- usually the manager and the coaches and the door would be open. They'd go out and get drinks and chips and there'd be a conference in Bud's room and you could stay as long as you liked. If you wanted to stay until 8 in the morning, he'd hang with you," Matthews recalled.
Blattner also was noted for his work calling games for the NBA's St. Louis Hawks.
"I was growing up in central Illinois and we got KMOX from St. Louis and he was one of the best -- maybe the best -- pro basketball announcers. They talk about Chick Hearn and all those other guys, but he was unbelievable, really good. As good as he was in baseball, he might have been a better basketball announcer," Matthews said.
Blattner also was an accomplished tennis and table-tennis player and had continued to win championships into his 80s.
"He lived a full life. He was a fun guy and he was wonderful to me," said Matthews, now in the broadcasters' wing of the Hall of Fame. "He was the most influential guy in my broadcasting career, for sure."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.