BOSTON – Fred Cusick, the radio and television voice of the Boston Bruins for more than four decades, died Tuesday, his family said. He was 90.
Cusick’s son, Ted, said his father died at his Barnstable, Mass., home after suffering from cancer. Cusick’s death came one day before he was scheduled to be inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
Cusick began his career with radio broadcasts of the Bruins in 1952. He moved to television in 1971 and retired from calling games in 1997.
Cusick called Boston’s Stanley Cup championship in 1970, one of the city’s most famous sports moments captured in an iconic photograph of Bobby Orr flying through the air after scoring the game-winning goal in overtime.
That moment, and the entire season, were among the highlights of Cusick’s career, his son said.
“I believe he (Orr) was the greatest player of all,” Cusick wrote in his 2006 memoir, “Fred Cusick: Voice Of The Bruins.”
While broadcasting the Bruins on radio in the mid-1960s, Cusick tried to drum up interest in getting the team on local television. At the time, however, the Bruins were in the cellar of the six-team National Hockey League and he found little interest among TV outlets.
“I kept telling them that the Bruins had this young player coming along named Orr and he was very good,” Cusick recalled. Along with Orr, the “Big Bad Bruins” as they were known at the time, had stars like Phil Esposito, Johnny Bucyk and Ken Hodge. The team’s popularity – and ratings – soared and they also captured the Stanley Cup in 1972.
Each goal scored by the Bruins would bring Cusick’s trademark shout: “Score!” The enthusiasm in his voice was genuine, Ted Cusick said.
Harry Sinden, a former coach and general manager of the Bruins and now a senior adviser to the team’s owner, said Cusick was a huge part of Bruins history and had a major impact on the broadcasting of the sport.
“He was a pioneer and the way hockey games are broadcast really originated with Fred,” Sinden said in a statement. “A lot of the camera work that they use was at his suggestion. He had a number of ideas that he brought in and they still use.”
“His memory will certainly live on in the hearts and minds of all Bruins fans, as one cannot recall some of the greatest moments in the history of this club without hearing his voice,” said the team’s principal owner, Charlie Jacobs.
Cusick was a tremendous sports fan, enjoying not only hockey but many other sports, according to his son, who said his father watched Monday night’s New England Patriots game, an exciting 25-24 victory over the Buffalo Bills, with “keen interest.”
In addition to hockey, Cusick also covered numerous other sports during his long career, including the first game played by the then-Boston Patriots in 1960.
The son of Irish immigrants, Cusick was born in Boston in 1918 and grew up in the city’s Brighton neighbourhood. He attended Northeastern University, where he played hockey, football and baseball.
He joined the Navy after graduation in 1942 and would remain in the reserves, eventually retiring with the rank of captain. He began his radio career with stations on Cape Cod and in Brockton, where he once interviewed the legendary boxer Rocky Marciano.
Cusick was a recipient of the Lester Patrick Award, given by the NHL to persons who make major contributions to the game in the United States. He also was the first American broadcaster to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
Cusick is survived by his wife, Barbara, his son Ted, and three daughters.
Funeral arrangements were incomplete.