Gary Bender was probably one of the best network sports announcers in his day. It is fitting that we showcase him this week since he has the distinction of being CBS’ first play by play announcer for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Born on September 1, 1940, he is a graduate of Wichita State University and holds a master’s degree from the University Of Kansas. He got his start calling collegiate games in Kansas, including the University of Kansas’ football and basketball in the 1960’s. He also worked in Wisconsin, calling play-by-play for the Green Bay Packers on radio and the Milwaukee Brewers on TV. His career at CBS Sports spanned twelve years, from 1975-1987, which included play-by-play for the “NFL On CBS”. In addition to March Madness, he was the network’s lead play-by-play announcer for college football.
After CBS, he spent five years at ABC Sports. He later joined TNT for a brief period before joining FOX Sports Net-Arizona for the next 18 years calling play by play for the Phoenix Suns. He also was with the Versus Network calling Mountain West Conference football and had a syndicated radio show, “Focus On The Family”.
What an extraordinary career.
Enjoy this clip from December 27, 1985 of Gary calling play-by-play at the Sun Bowl… but he’s talking about the University Of Texas-El Paso defeating Georgetown… in men’s basketball! That was news indeed!