Sports Announcer By Saam Dies at 85
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ By Saam, inducted into the broadcasters’ wing of the baseball Hall of Fame after calling more than 8,000 games for the Philadelphia Phillies and Athletics, died Sunday at the age of 85.
The popular radio announcer died following a stroke.
During his 38 years in Philadelphia, he described 13 no-hitters, including Jim Bunning’s perfect game against the New York Mets in 1964, and Ted Williams’ final two games of 1941, when he batted over .400.
Saam also broadcast University of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Eagles football games, college and professional basketball, and Ramblers hockey games.
Broadcasters and others who had worked with Saam remembered him as an even-tempered professional who never displayed any signs of an ego.
``Socially and professionally, By was a joy to be around,″ Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas said. ``Between innings, he would crack Whitey (Richie Ashburn) and me up with his sense of humor and one-liners. By’s sense of humor never really came across to the public. He was trained in the old school where everything on the air was serious business.″
Fitting his temperament, Saam often used the phrase ``rolling along″ _ as in ``rolling along into the fifth inning″ or ``rolling along here in Los Angeles.″
Gene Kelly, Chuck Thompson, Bill Campbell and Claude Haring were among Saam’s many other broadcasting partners.
Byrum F. Saam began his Philadelphia broadcasting in 1937, covering football games for Temple and Villanova. The next year, he started announcing Phillies and Athletics home games.
Broadcasters did not travel back then, so he was able to announce for both teams until the late 1940s, when Phillies owner Bob Carpenter wanted to announce the road games too, meaning the city’s two teams would have separate announcers.
Out of loyalty to Athletics owner Connie Mack, Saam became the A’s home and road announcer in 1950, and remained with the team until 1954, when the team left town. He was the Phillies’ announcer for the 1955 through 1975 seasons, after which he retired.
Saam was brought back in 1976 to call the NL championship series after the Phillies won the East division.
``When I came to the Phillies, he was with the A’s. Later, he became part of the Phillies family,″ Hall of Fame pitcher Robin Roberts said. ``He had a beautiful voice.″
In 1990, Saam was honored with the Ford C. Frick Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
The native of Fort Worth, Texas, began announcing games in his senior year of high school when appendicitis took him off the playing field. He continued at Texas Christian University as a football announcer until nationally known announcer Ted Husing heard him and recommended him to a Minneapolis advertising agency.
He then transferred to the University of Minnesota and broadcast its football games, then coached by the famed Bernie Bierman, in addition to covering Minneapolis Millers baseball games.
His wife of 47 years, Anne Fitzpatrick Saam, died in 1986.
He is survived by daughters Barbara S. Wojciechowski of Richmond, N.H., and Carol S. Thacher of Devon, Pa.; son Byrum F. ``Chip″ Saam Jr. of Haverford, Pa., as well as a brother, Robert Douglas Saam of Santa Fe, N.M.
A public memorial service is planned for 4:30 p.m. Thursday at All Saints Church in Wynnewood, Pa., followed by a private burial.
Memorial contributions may be sent to Phillies Charities Inc., Box 7575, Philadelphia, PA 19101.