Sportscaster Howard Kellman: Former Brooklynite finds a home in the Hoosier state
He’s a baseball lifer. Luckily.
Howard Kellman, the kid from P.S. 206 – East 23rd Street and Avenue V – knew at an early age what he wanted to do in life.
“I made up my mind when I was 14,” he told the Eagle, “I wanted to call baseball games on radio. I thought, and still do, it’s the greatest way to make a living.”
Kellman enters his 45th season calling games for the Indianapolis Indians next month.
“That’s close to 6,400 games,” he reminds.
It was almost cut short on a Sunday afternoon, in 2016. He was feeling pain and pressure in his arm and chest prior to a ballgame.
Heart attack – not a good time – but when is?
“It became too severe to ignore,” he remembered.
He was rushed to the ER in downtown Indianapolis – and get this—Kellman was ready to get back to the ballpark.
He missed 10 games – the only 10 games he has ever missed because of health reasons.
“It was difficult,” he said, “because I felt fine.”
Perhaps the cure was his love for baseball.
The Sheepshead Bay High School grad got his start behind a microphone as a student at Brooklyn College.
“I did their basketball games on the student station, WBCR,” he said.
In his junior year, Kellman was calling play-by-play for St. John’s University basketball on WRVR (106.7 FM).
And, St. John’s football on WNYC-TV, Channel 31.
“I still had that love for baseball,” he said.
So, he obtained permission from then Yankee owner George Steinbrenner to sit in vacant radio booths in Yankee Stadium to do practice broadcasts.
“I must’ve sent some 110 letters out to potential employers before my senior year,” he said, “and only about 25 answered. I was somewhat naïve because I thought the other letters were lost in the mail.”
Three minor league baseball broadcast jobs were open back in 1974 when Kellman was banging on doors – Indianapolis, Spokane and Albuquerque.
Indianapolis called – and Kellman never left.
In fact, he remembers that very first game as if it was yesterday.
“It was in Evansville (Ind.), on April 17, 1974,” he said. “It was a Wednesday night and our home opener was Saturday at Bush Stadium (Indianapolis) when we played an afternoon game against the Omaha Royals.
“That Omaha team had a young third baseman by the name of George Brett,” he recalled.
There’s more – much more for Howard Kellman.
When not in the booth with the Indians, he does play-by-play at WHMB-TV covering the high school football and basketball games-of-the-week.
He also hosts a TV show, Inside the Indians, focusing on the Tribe.
In fact, he’s even had time to author a book – “61 Humorous & Inspiring Lessons I Learned from Baseball,” with a forward by former Detroit Tigers Hall of Fame announcer Ernie Harwell.
Yes, he’s had aspirations to move to the big leagues. In fact, there have been times he’s filled in and did play-by-play for the Chicago White Sox, New York Mets and Cleveland Indians and was a sideline reporter for Yale Football in 2012 on the YES Television network.
“Since I started calling high school football and basketball in 1990,” he said, “and my Indians TV show, I realized I have it pretty good here, and Indy is my home.”
It’s certainly a stretch – and perhaps some culture shock – from the P.S. 206 schoolyard where Rico Petrocelli – the man who played his entire career with the Boston Red Sox – and the legendary Vince Lombardi once strolled.
“There’s the love of the game of baseball, there’s the love for broadcasting the game of baseball,” he said.
Kellman better start prepping – the minor league season was entirely cancelled a year-ago thanks to the pandemic.
“It was the first time our season was cancelled since 1902,” he said.
“Like the Hall of Famer Willie Stargell once said, ‘The umpires don’t say work ball, they say play ball.’ I have fun every day.’”
Andy Furman is a Fox Sports Radio national talk show host. Previously, he was a scholastic sports columnist for the Brooklyn Eagle. He may be reached at: [email protected].
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