The Obit For Vince Lloyd

Sidekick soared in WGN's hey-hey day

July 5, 2003

The Chicago Tribune

Vince Lloyd wasn't necessarily the ''first name'' in the hierarchy of Cubs broadcasting. He was the longtime sidekick to Jack Brickhouse on WGN television and a predecessor to the years of Harry Caray.

But with a journalism background that ran the gamut from sports to politics, Lloyd was as much a broadcasting pioneer as those Hall of Fame announcers.

Lloyd, who teamed with Hall of Famer Lou Boudreau as the radio voices of the Cubs during a career spanning almost four decades, died late Thursday at his home in Green Valley, Ariz., near Tucson.

Lloyd, who turned 86 on June 1, had been in failing health in recent months and suffered from cancer.

''The whole WGN sports department came down the road together, and he was an essential part of it,'' said Jack Rosenberg, the longtime executive director of WGN Sports who worked closely with Lloyd, Brickhouse and Boudreau in the network's formative years. ''We broadcast the first Cubs game in 1948. We were together from the infancy of broadcasting, really.

''We were there when television started, and collectively the sports department became one of the best in the country, and Vince was part of that.''

Born Vincent Lloyd Skaff in Sioux Falls, S.D., his career began at KTRI in his hometown. He later worked in Bloomington, Ill., then at WMBD in Peoria, where Brickhouse was working. Lloyd served in the Marines in World War II before returning to WMBD after the war.

Lloyd covered Illinois football, Bradley basketball and semipro sports in Peoria. But in September 1949, he joined WGN in Chicago, where he would become part of a legendary emergence in sports broadcasting.

''I didn't get a chance to hear him until the highlights,'' Cubs radio analyst Ron Santo said. ''But the enthusiasm and the way he called the game--he was so precise and had a tone in his voice that made you get excited.''

Santo, who played third base for the Cubs from 1960 to 1973, said Lloyd was respected and revered by players for his style and professionalism.

''He used to like to sit by the pool [on trips], and Glenn Beckert and Billy Williams and I and other players would sit there and talk to him,'' Santo said. ''He knew the game. And teamed with Boudreau, they were unbelievable. Those guys had such good chemistry.

''They were family--they were like part of the Cubs.''

Lloyd's work covering the Cubs included broadcasting Sandy Koufax's perfect game and the 1969 season, when the Cubs lost their National League East lead to the New York Mets in September. He was called ''the voice of summer'' by his superiors at WGN.

But Lloyd took a place in broadcast history in 1961 when he interviewed John F. Kennedy. It was the first live interview with a sitting president at a baseball opener.

''It was a prestigious moment, but he was quite apprehensive about it,'' Rosenberg recalled. ''The picture [of the interview] became one of the elite ones in the WGN archives.''

Lloyd's work included doing Big Ten games of the week, DePaul basketball games and the Chicago Hustle women's professional basketball team. He also was the voice of the Bulls for eight years.

Lloyd's career at WGN spanned 38 years, but in 1994 he returned for a celebration of Wrigley Field's 80th birthday and reunited with Boudreau and Brickhouse to broadcast several innings of a game. Later that season, when Caray was recovering from injuries suffered in a fall, Lloyd did 10 games in his place.

''It's really sad to reflect on the fact that Jack, Harry, Lou, Arne Harris and now Vince are gone,'' Rosenberg said.

Lloyd's first wife of many years, Marian, died about five years ago. His second wife, Myrtle, whom he married three years ago, was with him when he died. Lloyd also is survived by a son, Michael Skaff.

Lloyd is to be buried in his hometown of Sioux Falls.