Joe Croghan, 74, broadcaster for O's, Colts games

November 30, 1995|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Joe Croghan, whose play-by-play broadcasts of Orioles, Colts and Washington Senators games during the 1950s and 1960s earned him the loyal following of listeners and broadcasters alike, died of cancer Monday at Manor Care Ruxton. He was 74.

Mr. Croghan worked for WBAL-TV and radio from the early 1950s until 1964 and was the organization's first sports director. He was a member of the Orioles announcing team in the early 1960s, working with such legendary broadcasters as Chuck Thompson, Herb Carneal and Bob Murphy.

He left WBAL in 1964 to join WCKT-TV in Miami to broadcast Miami Dolphins games. After returning to Baltimore in 1969 to broadcast Colts games over WCBM radio, he went back to Miami, where he was the host of "The Don Shula Show" until 1974.

"I enjoyed my relationship with him," Mr. Shula, the Miami Dolphins coach and a former Colts player, said yesterday. "I always thought he was one of the top people in his profession."

Mr. Croghan retired in 1985 and returned to Towson, where he had lived for the past 10 years.

Said Mr. Thompson, a Baseball Hall of Fame announcer who still broadcasts the Orioles: "He was professional and always

prepared. I can't think of anyone who had a better studio sports show than Joe. He relished the challenges of deadlines and could pack a lot of information in a short time slot.

John Steadman, former News American sports editor who is now a Sun sports columnist, said: "He was easy to listen to, and he dropped stories right into your lap with as comfortable a fit as wearing an old pair of slippers."

In a 38-year career that spanned the era of radio and television, Mr. Croghan was known for his aversion to cliches and remembered for his colorful descriptions and straightforward delivery.

"He was one of the most articulate and bright guys in the business," said Vince Bagli, retired WBAL sportscaster who was hired by Mr. Croghan in 1952. "He could do it all. He was a polished professional and not a showboat."

Mr. Carneal, who did Orioles play-by-play coverage in 1960 and 1961, and for 34 years has been the voice of the Minnesota Twins, said: "He was easy to work with and had a colorful, descriptive voice that was easy to listen to. I remember his trademark greeting of 'Hey, Hoss, how ya doin'?' "

Mr. Murphy, a Baseball Hall of Fame announcer who has spent the past 35 years broadcasting New York Mets games, recalled, "He was the third guy in the booth and used a lot of pretty hip language, like musicians use. He was really a delightful man."

Mr. Croghan began his career by accident -- making announcements aboard a troop ship returning from Europe in World War II. Some GIs suggested that he consider broadcasting.

He began in radio in 1947 at WANN in Annapolis, where he announced Navy football games, and appeared in the late 1940s on "Four Star Final," one of the first Baltimore television news shows with Galen Fromme, Keith McBee and Tom White.

Born and raised in Baltimore, Mr. Croghan was a 1939 graduate of Loyola High School and earned his bachelor's degree from Loyola College in 1943.

"He thought that he had been forgotten in recent years," said his wife of 10 years, the former Melva Heil, "but one thing about Joe, he had a voice that you'll always remember."

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11:30 a.m. today at Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, Baltimore and Ware avenues, Towson.

Other survivors include a son, Brian Croghan of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; a daughter, Katherine Croghan of Hollywood, Fla.; and six grandchildren.

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