Opening day came for the Giants’ 1958 season… The teletype brought the game to me at 11:15 at night, and I Keiter-ized it for New York City and beyond… For three years Les Keiter’s voice echoed up and down Broadway from every tavern and every taxicab until one o’clock in the morning. I was the voice of the National League in New York City..”
Speaking of distinguished announcers who spent time with the Giants, I’m reading Fifty Years Behind the Microphone, Les Keiter’s excellent biography with Dennis Christianson.
After earning his stripes in places like Modesto, where he broadcast the Bees (Class A) home games and re-created the away games, Keiter and his family pulled up their West Coast roots and moved to New York in 1953. Keiter served as sports director for WINS and worked alongside the likes of Red Barber and Mel Allen.
When the Giants and Dodgers moved west, WINS owner J. Elroy McCaw came up with the idea of re-creates for either the Giants or Dodgers games. Keiter was highly skeptical, telling his boss, “You’ve got to be out of your mind! Sports fans in Manhattan, New Jersey and Westchester are just too sophisticated for re-creates!”
McCaw convinced Keiter that the idea would not only work, they would bring in good ratings. He then gave Keiter a choice between the Dodgers and the Giants.
“Players like Orlando Cepeda, Willie Kirkland and Felipe Alou are going to be great. And they’ve got the brightest star in baseball today, Willie Mays, who simply owns New York… If you are determined to do this, San Francisco is the team whose games we should re-create.”
McCaw was right. The re-creates of the Giants games did get high ratings and furthered Keiter’s reputation in the field. He went on to have an outstanding sportscasting career that included football, basketball, boxing, the Olympics and a return to Hawaii in 1970 where he broadcast and re-created games for the Hawaii Islanders (AAA).
Known as "The General," Keiter served as sports director at KHON TV-2 in Hawaii from 1973 to 1994. He then took on duties as Aloha Stadium’s spokesman from 1995-2002. He continues to work in the field by mentoring sportscasters in a program he developed called Stadium Stars.
I spoke with Keiter earlier this week. He currently serves as the Master of Ceremonies for the Honolulu Quarterback Club and still loves baseball. “I check the boxscores every morning,” the friendly voice said.
Note: I'd like to thank Dave Reardon of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin for his help with this article.