Longtime sportscaster Warner Fusselle died last night of an apparent heart attack. He was 68.
Taking a page from his idols Red Barber and Ernie Harwell, Fusselle was another southerner to call baseball games in Brooklyn when the Mets single A affiliate debuted in 2001. He was scheduled to be at the mic for a 12th straight Opening Day next week.
“We were fortunate to have the best radio announcer in the sport working for us,” Cyclones GM Steve Cohen tells FishbowlNY. “He lived and breathed Cyclones baseball.”
He only missed a handful of games from the “Catbird Seat,” a phrase borrowed from Barber.
And it was the “Ol’ Redhead, as Fusselle told The Brooklyn Paper in 2004, that made him want to follow in those legendary footsteps.
“Red told me all these stories about broadcasting in Brooklyn, and when I heard about baseball coming back to Brooklyn, I wanted to see what it would be like to broadcast in Brooklyn, and so I applied for the job.”
“I think we were just fortunate to get Warner between gigs,” Cohen says. “I always thought he should be doing radio at the major league level.”
When Mel Allen, another Baseball Hall of Famer with ties to Dixie, stepped down as host/narrator of This Week In Baseball, it was Fusselle’s voice heard by millions.
A native of Louisville, Fusselle grew up in Gainesville, Georgia, and recently called St. John’s baseball games on CBS Sports Network as the Red Storm advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
Throughout his career, Fusselle kept returning to minor league baseball, announcing games for the Richmond Braves, Virginia Squires, and Spartanburg Phillies.
Nicknamed The “Fuse,” he was an avid collector of baseball and rock and roll memorabilia. In a 2009 interview, Fusselle said he had about 15,000 albums and records.
He is survived by his sister, Alicia Fusselle, and two nephews Max Hyde and Warner Hyde.
Cohen says there are no immediate plans for a new Brooklyn Cyclones play-by-play voice.