October 7 – Happy Birthday Rip Rowan

73593Though he was born in Schenectady where his Mom Clarissa hailed from, William Rowan Jr. did his growing up in Amsterdam, NY. He resided on the lower “200 block” of Guy Park Avenue and he graduated from Lynch High School in 1953. His father was “Red” Rowan, a skilled Rug City bowler in his day and a huge sports fan, a trait he certainly passed on to his namesake. The kid loved sports and was a fanatical follower of his beloved New York Yankees. He played Church League basketball for St. Ann’s and was an outfielder on the old Mortan’s team that used to compete in the inter-city State League. The team played its home games at Mohawk Mills Park and I came across a 1953 Recorder article that documents the fact that the young Mr. Rowan was a powerful enough hitter to have driven a ball over that venue’s distant center field fence in one such contest.

He graduated from Ithaca College, did his military hitch with the Air Force and got his first job behind a mike at Amsterdam’s WCSS radio station in the late 1950’s, where he quickly became a listening audience favorite, noted for his rapid-fire, high energy play-by-play announcing of high school basketball games. It was 1966, when Rowan landed the sports casting job with WTEN that ended up making him a Capital District Sports Legend. He and Bob McNamara, another long-time Albany-area sports broadcasting celebrity, were hired by the station at the about the same time. When “Mac” accepted an offer the following year to anchor the sports desk at Schenectady’s WRGB, Rowan took over as Channel 10 anchor and the two competed for audience share for the next 20 years, prompting the question heard in thousands of Capital District taverns and bars, “Who do you like better, Mac or Rip?”…

You can read the rest of my story about this native Amsterdam sportscaster in my new book “A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam Birthdays.” To order your copy, click here.

 

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