Legendary broadcaster donates interviews with sports icons to Library of Congress

WASHINGTON – The sound of Jackie Robinson talking about his experiences with racist teammates. Interviews with Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and heavyweight champions. Play-by-plays of some of the greatest football, baseball, basketball and hockey games ever played.

They are all now in the collections of the Library of Congress.

The recordings will eventually be available to the public thanks to the man who holds the Guinness World Record for longest career as a sports broadcaster. Bob Wolff began his career in radio in 1939, and he continues working today in the New York City area.

He is the only person to call championship games for all four major sports, including Don Larsen’s perfect game in the World Series and the Baltimore Colts’ NFL Championship win over the Giants in 1958, which was dubbed “the greatest game ever played.”

Wolff had the foresight to keep recordings of many of his broadcasts and interviews years before it became a common practice. He has kept the discs, cassettes, VHS tapes and other recordings in great condition.

Wolff was in Washington Friday to celebrate turning over the seven decades of sports history he so carefully preserved to the Library of Congress.

Although the actual discs and other materials will be stored at the library’s Packard Campus in Culpeper, archivists plan to digitize all of the recordings and make them available to the public.

Initially, each digitized recording will be available in the Library of Congress reading rooms on Capitol Hill. Eventually, the library also plans to post the recordings online.

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Bob Wolff (Courtesy News 12 Long Island)

“It all began in Washington. And that’s why I treasure the fact that these tapes of mine will be in the Library of Congress. In Washington, I got my first break on TV, on professional radio. My kids were born here. I was married here. So Washington is like a second home,” Wolff says.

In the D.C. area, Wolff worked at WTOP and WTTG. He called Washington Senators baseball games and games for the Washington Capitols, the basketball team that spelled its name differently from today’s hockey team.

A front seat to history

Wolff was right in the thick of the nation’s struggle with desegregation as Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby broke the color barrier in the Major Leagues.

Players “couldn’t wait to get on (the broadcast), but I wanted to give them something. So I gave them Countess Mara neckties in conjunction with one of my sponsors