MURFREESBORO — Vol Network legends Lindsey Nelson and John Ward will be inducted into the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame on May 5 as part of the inaugural ceremonies in Murfreesboro.
Nelson and Ward are among 12 honorees that will be celebrated as the Hall recognizes the rich and diverse history of Tennessee Radio. The event will be held at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Murfreesboro. To order tickets, call (615) 365-1840.
Nelson, who died in 1995, will be recognized as a Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame Legacy Inductee.
Born in Campbellsville, Lindsey built one of the greatest careers in sports broadcasting following a short career as a reporter for The Columbia Daily Herald newspaper, and a stint in the U.S. Army as a war correspondent and public relations officer during World War II.
He was the first play-by-play announcer for the “Vol Network,” which was set up to broadcast the games of the University of Tennessee, from 1948-52.
He then began his national baseball broadcast career as one of Gordon McLendon’s radio announcers for the Liberty Broadcasting System, which primarily did re-creations of games.
After a stretch as an administrator with NBC Sports, he began doing the network’s baseball broadcasts, college football, NBA basketball, and pro golf and tennis.
Known as “Mr. New Year’s Day,” Lindsey did the play-by-play of the Cotton Bowl Classic for 25 seasons on CBS television, was the syndicated television voice of Notre Dame Fighting Irish football for 13 years and called the Mutual Broadcasting System’s Monday night radio broadcasts of NFL games from 1974 to 1977.
Nelson also called NFL games for CBS television for many years, including the first NFL game to feature the use of “instant replay,” which he had to explain repeatedly during the game, reminding viewers that “this is not live.”
In 1962, Nelson was hired by the Mets, and for the next 17 seasons did both radio and television with Ralph Kiner and Bob Murphy. All three men were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. In 1979, Nelson moved on to the San Francisco Giants, for whom he worked three seasons. He also worked CBS Radio broadcasts of Major League Baseball in 1985.
Nelson’s other honors include induction into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame (1979), the New York Mets Hall of Fame (1984), the American Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame (1986), the Tuss McLaughry Service Award for sports broadcasting (1988) the Ford C. Frick Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame (1988) the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award from the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1990) and an Emmy Award for Life Achievement (1991). The Tennessee Volunteers baseball team’s home field was named Lindsey Nelson Stadium in 1993.
Ward will be honored as a Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame Career Inductee.
Named Tennessee Sportscaster of the Year 28 times, Ward served as the main communications link between the University of Tennessee and its fans as the undisputed “Voice of the Vols” for more than three decades, painting a lifelike word picture of Vol football and basketball games.
As a moonlighting UT student, John did radio play-by-play while covering high school basketball and football for The Knoxville Journal, broadcasting his first UT basketball game 1958. After Army service he returned to Knoxville and in 1964 he became announcer-host-coordinator for UT coaches’ TV shows in football and basketball. In 1965, he became the Vols radio play-by-play voice for basketball and three years later for football.
In addition to his duties with the Vol Network, he covered events for ABC-TV and ESPN. John was named Best College Announcer in the country in 1976 and was a multi-term president of the Southeastern Conference Broadcasters Association. He is a member of both the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and the Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame.
Tennessee named the fourth level of the press box at Neyland Stadium “The John Ward Broadcast Center” in 1995.
Published in The Messenger 4.6.12