Lindsey Nelson

New York Mets

Metsellaneous – Joey Wahler On The Mets: Lindsey Nelson Award Winner Had Mets Broadcast Legend As A Professor

May 02, 2019 - 4:42 pm
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By Joey Wahler

It’s only fitting that Stan Cotten is the 20th annual winner of the Lindsey Broadcasting Award, since the late, beloved Mets TV and radio voice also called the Cotton Bowl on CBS for 26 years.

“The irony of my last name being the same (different spelling) as the bowl game he’s known for broadcasting all of those years isn’t lost on me,” Cotten said. “What gets me is that I’ve been given a broadcasting award with his name on it.”

For 23 years, Cotten has been Wake Forrest University’s football and basketball radio broadcaster, also calling some baseball. Last month he received the Nelson Award from the Knoxville Quarterback Club, which honors college and high school football. The award is bestowed upon an announcer exemplifying a passion for college football during their career.

“I really was just kind of stopped in my tracks,” Cotten said of being chosen. “The fact that I’m a native Tennessean, as Lindsey Nelson was, makes it all that more special. To know that his roots were in the same state where I grew up. That he went, like I did, to the University of Tennessee.”

Other Nelson award honorees include Brent Musburger, Tim Brando, Lee Corso, Verne Lundquist, Chris Shenkel and Keith Jackson.

“You look at some of the past winners, it just kind of blows you away,” Cotten said.

Of Nelson, who died in 1995, “He was an iconic figure,” said Jeff Hagood, Knoxville Quarterback Club president, who added the award was created “because he was one of us, and he was such a powerful voice in college and pro sports, it was only natural.”

Working with Bob Murphy and Ralph Kiner, Nelson was an original Mets announcer from 1962-‘79. Their 17 years together set the record for a baseball broadcast trio. Nelson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988, and he’s enshrined in the Mets, American Sportscasters and College football halls of fame. He called the NFL on CBS, and presided over a popular syndicated, Notre Dame football show that aired on Saturday evenings, featuring highlights of their latest game.

Adored by Met fans, Nelson was known for his signature greeting, “Hello everybody, I’m Lindsey Nelson,” and his patented loud, multi-colored sport jackets. Equally revered in his native Tennessee, the Pulaski native was later a Knoxville resident. The University of Tennessee’s baseball games are played at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. He became the Volunteers’ football voice in 1948, helping form their radio network a year later. 

“Lindsey Nelson had a voice and a style that will never and could never be copied,” Hagood said. “There’s not many one-of-a-kinds. So we thought we had a one-of-a-kind and we wanted to celebrate that.”

Before graduating from Tennessee in 1983, Cotten knew Nelson in a unique capacity on campus, when the icon was his professor for a sports broadcasting course.

“He was just so genuine,” Cotten said. “He would sit maybe on the edge of the desk, and a lot of it was just relating stories about the Mets, stories about Notre Dame, stories about the Cotton Bowl and CBS. All of the incredible players, and owners, and all those types of people that he would come across on a daily basis.

“I just remember him being pretty much in perpetual smile mode. He always was a very pleasant human being. So much of a sweetheart of a guy.”

Receiving the Nelson Award means more to him, Cotten says, because of their student-teacher relationship.

“It was just incredible,” he said. “I just sat there with my jaw on the dang desk because I knew all about Lindsey. But I was just in awe. I’m sitting here with Lindsey Nelson, really? The class was always packed, and I promise you not all the people had registered for the class,” Cotton recalled, laughing.

The Tennessee Quarterback club, of which Nelson was a member, meets weekly during the season. Its first Nelson Award in 1988 went to long-time Vols’ football and basketball voice, John Ward. Presenting it was Hagood, wearing Nelson-like attire.

“That was the loudest coat that you could ever imagine,” Hagood said. “Something like Lindsey would wear and wore. I gave that to John Ward along with the Lindsey Nelson Award. He put it on and it looked splendid on him. And it reminded everybody in the room, particularly the old timers, of Lindsey Nelson.”

Growing up, Cotten spent Saturdays with his father watching Nelson do those Cotton Bowls and Notre Dame highlights. After 40 years calling college football and basketball at Tennessee, Marshall University and elsewhere, he remembers the most important broadcasting lesson Nelson taught him.

“It’s work but it doesn’t have to feel like it,” Cotten said. “You can absolutely love what you do and get paid for it. And I think Lindsey Nelson loved what he did as much as anybody I’ve ever met. That came across to me.”

Capsulizing Nelson’s course, “He always seemed like he was as excited to be there as we were,” Cotten said. “So I think it was a win-win, for him and for those of us in the class. I will never forget it. Never, ever forget it. That was one of the very special times in my college career.”