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Howard Cosell Forever Silent in Westhampton

A giant of his times.

You could barely hear the rain as it bounced off the assorted sized granite markers in the graveyard.

The flashlight pierced through the twilight drizzle, which made it hard to read the names. Finally Mike Galuzzi said, “Oh here it is!”  Then I read the single name Cosell.

“This is where he is," said Mike reverently. 

“It’s so quiet,” I thought, almost out loud.

His voice to all those who ever heard it was distinctive, almost overbearing, and it always started with, “HELLO this is Howard Cosell.” To a whole generation this man personified sports. He covered the Olympics, the World Series, College Football, Monday Night Football and so many other sports as the face of ABC Sports.

But to me Howard Cosell's best skill was calling World Championship Boxing events, especially in the golden era of Mohammad Ali, Joe Frazier and George Forman. If you were a boxing fan of that era you forever hear his voice saying, “Down goes Frazier, down does Frazier, down goes Frazier!”

For 12 years that voice has been silent. On April 23, 1995, Cosell died after several minor strokes, heart and kidney disease and Parkinson's complications. He is buried in Westhampton Cemetery along side his wife Mary Edith Abrams Cosell who predeceased him in 1990.

Howard Cosell told the nation via Monday Night Football of John Lennon’s death. His phrasing of words was the signature of his genius and greatness. But Cosell did have his detractors. In fact perhaps he was the most hated man on TV, yet you had to listen, because he saw the story of the bigger picture always evolving. He was there to report the ugly reality of terrorism at the Munich Olympic games. He exploited the Reggie Jackson saga. For a while, he alone reported the battle of Ali and the draft, and in the end the mishandling and tragedy of Mike Tyson.

Everybody had a Cosell impersonation and comedians received easy laughs doing bits of it. But as Joni Mitchell once wrote and sang, “Don’t it always go seem to go, you don’t know what got till it’s gone,” Howard Cosell is gone, silent, resting in his plot in Westhampton Cemetery.

There lies the man who brought Television Sports on to the big stage forever.

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