Lindsey Nelson

1919–1995

Lindsey Nelson, a native of Columbia, Tennessee, and a 1941 UT graduate with a major in English, became a broadcasting legend. He served as a student assistant to football coach General Robert R. Neyland, working as a spotter, and in 1940 assisted Bill Stern in the NBC radio broadcast of the UT vs. Duke game.

During World War II, he was an army officer in the European theater and took part in the three major invasions of the war—North Africa, Sicily, and Normandy. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was present when the American and Russian forces met. He saw Eisenhower, Bradley, and Patton at close range and shared quarters with legendary war correspondent Ernie Pyle.

He began his sports broadcasting career in Knoxville in 1947 for WKGN radio, broadcasting high school football games and recreating on the air some of the great University of Tennessee games of the past (the 1947 team was not doing well). He suggested to General Neyland the formation of the Volunteer Broadcasting Network, which Neyland shortened to Vol Network. Nelson broadcast his first UT game in 1948 against Mississippi State, at Shields-Watkins Field. Mississippi State won 21-6. In 1951 Nelson assumed the position of sports information director. In the 1950s he moved to the national level, announcing college football (most notably, for Notre Dame) and baseball for the Liberty Broadcasting Network. He served as lead broadcaster for the New York Mets for 17 years and as the voice of the San Francisco Giants for three years.

Nelson was named Sportscaster of the Year five times, and has been inducted into 12 halls of fame throughout the nation, including the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum at Cooperstown, New York; New York Mets Hall of Fame at Shea Stadium; State of New York Sports Hall of Fame; National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame (Salisbury, North Carolina); the American Sportscasters Hall of Fame (New York City); Mutual Broadcasting Hall of Fame (Nashville); East Tennessee Hall of Fame for the Performing Arts (Knoxville); College Football Hall of Fame; Pro Football Hall of Fame (Canton, Ohio); and the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame (Baton Rouge).

His trademark was the wildly colorful jackets he wore while broadcasting. Nelson explained that when the New York Mets were going to be televising 120 games in color, he went to a New York clothing store and bought all the gaudy jackets (seven) that they could not sell, on the theory that people might not recognize him, but they would know his outfit. After retiring and moving back to Knoxville, Nelson taught in the College of Communications beginning in 1981, when he taught a course in Issues in Journalism—Sports Broadcasting. He accepted appointment as adjunct professor of broadcasting in 1986, juggling his busy broadcast schedule and teaching.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Lindsey Nelson
  • Coverage 1919–1995
  • Author
  • Keywords Lindsey Nelson
  • Website Name Volopedia
  • Publisher University of Tennessee Libraries
  • URL
  • Access Date May 27, 2022
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update October 9, 2018