Recalling old males-only Husky Stadium press box of 1940s
Posted by Rod Belcher
Rod Belcher, who turned 91 on Nov. 4, began broadcasting in 1942 and began working in Tacoma in 1946. The California native has called games for the NFL's San Francisco 49ers (changing his name from Belcher to Hughes at the insistence of a beer sponsor) and Washington Huskies football and basketball and was the Seahawks' press-box announcer for 28 years. He was the Washington State Sportscaster of the Year 1963 through 1965 and wrote freelance trivia for The Times from 1972 to 1985.
In this Take 2 post, Belcher, who lives in Des Moines, recalls calling Husky radio games in the 1940s from the cramped old Husky Stadium press box.
After reading The Seattle Times' farewell to the original Husky Stadium, I got to thinking something that was not mentioned -- the old rickety press box and radio broadcast booth in the pre-south upper deck days. And I'm wondering if I might be the last guy standing among print and/or electronic media people who actually worked in that facility.
Maybe yes, maybe no.
My first experience there was as a 22-year-old Army Air Corps soldier from Paine Field, working as a "spotter" for Ted Bell's radio play-by-play call of the Washington-March Field Flyers game in October 1943. Then, after World War II, as a fledgling sportcaster, I had assignments as both play-by-play announcer and color commentator on Husky games in 1948 and '49, which was the last year before the erection of the south upper deck. My first play-by-play call was of the 14-7 win over Utah, opening the '49 season.
It was a bit of an adventure, climbing into the cramped radio booth via a short ladder from the main wooden press box.
And what could be found inside now seems even more astonishing.
The press box itself in those days was populated by a "males-only" crew, and not just the working newspaper guys and photographers. There was a notable absence of even feminine ushers or other assistants, thanks to a "no-women-allowed-in-the-press-box" edict pushed by old-line sports scribes of that day. Their justification for the rule was that women might be offended by the "rough language" tossed about the confined area by the hard-bitten writing fraternity.
Hard to imagine now, isn't it?
I'm wondering if there is anyone else besides myself who was part of the working press at the stadium that happened to be opened in the very month and year of my birth, November 1920.
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