|Robert Kraft surprises Gil Santos with a HOF reward||12.30.12 at 4:42 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Gil Santos joked he had never been driven to tears. But what Patriots owner Robert Kraft announced at the end of a pre-game ceremony made the hardened veteran announcer tear up and break down.
During a pregame ceremony to honor Santos and Gino Cappelletti, Kraft announced that Santos, the legendary voice of the Patriots, would be a 2013 inductee into the Patriots Hall of Fame. Santos will become the 20th person to be inducted and just the second non-player to earn the honor as a contributor for his off-field contributions to the team. It is the highest honor the team can bestow an individual.
Santos, who overcame life-threatening health complications early in 2012 to return to the broadcast booth this year, announced his intention to retire after the 2012 season earlier this year. For 36 seasons, spanning five decades, he has earned the moniker ‘Voice of the New England Patriots.’ Santos is currently tied with Philadelphia’s Merrill Reese as the longest tenured broadcaster for a team in the NFL. In 36 seasons, he missed just one game, a preseason game in 1971. Today, Santos is calling his 743rd career Patriots game, including his 73rd game between the Patriots and the Miami Dolphins.
‘There will never be another tandem like Gil and Gino,’ said Kraft. ‘They are two Patriots icons and legendary broadcasters. I am proud to say that they will both be known as Patriots Hall of Famers. Gil has always had such a great voice. We are lucky that his radio calls will be indelibly linked to the most memorable moments in our franchise’s history and we are happy to preserve his legacy in The Hall for generations to come.’
Santos began calling games for the Boston Patriots at Fenway Park in 1966. For the first five seasons, he provided color analysis alongside veteran play-by-play man Bob Starr. When the team moved to Foxborough in 1971, Santos moved into his current role as play-by-play voice of the Patriots (1971-79). WBZ lost the Patriots radio rights in the 1980s, but got them back in 1991 and returned Santos to his natural position as Voice of the New England Patriots, a position he has held for the last 22 seasons.
The veteran play-by-play broadcaster was also the sports director of WBZ News Radio in Boston, where he earned dozens of awards and honors for his reporting, sportscasting and play-by-play excellence. He retired from WBZ after 38 years in 2009 and was inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame that year. In addition to his work at WBZ, the skilled play-by-play broadcaster also called basketball games for the Boston Celtics and Providence Friars, as well as football games for the Penn State Nittany Lions, Boston College Eagles, Brown Bears and Boston Breakers of the USFL.