Born on February 14, 1913, in Birmingham, Alabama, Mel Allen loved the game of baseball even as a boy, and this affection for the sport led him to be first a sports columnist and then a broadcaster. His first job behind the microphone was doing the play-by-play of a football game between Tulane and Alabama, which had special significance for the graduate of the University of Alabama Law School.
In 1937, Allen was invited to join the CBS Network in New York as an announcer and in the next few years was heard frequently welcoming listeners to big band remotes or shows like Truth or Consequences. In 1939, he broadcast games for both the Yankees and the Giants, then became the “voice of the Yankees.” “How about that?” became his trademarked exclamation point after Yankee home runs. Even after entering the Army in 1943, where he legally changed his name from Melvin Allen Israel, Allen continued to be heard on The Army Hour and Armed Forces Service Radio programs.
After his return to civilian life, Allen became such an accepted voice of authority on the great American pastime that the networks and Major League Baseball called on him to broadcast the All-Star Game 24 times. It was undoubtedly Allen’s intimate knowledge of the game and his Southern charm that accounted for his popularity, especially during the glory years of the Yankees, from 1949 to 1964, when virtually every October meant World Series time for the Bronx Bombers and Mel Allen time on the radio.
Mel Allen died on June 16, 1996.
He was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1988.