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Updated: June 12, 2011
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Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar

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Legendary sports journalist Bob Spaak passed away


...Bob Spaak...
(1917 - 2011)

NIEUW-LOOSDRECHT (Neth.) - Legendary sports journalist and commentator Bob Spaak passed away on Saturday, June 11 at the age of 93 years old.

Bob Spaak, who in his youth was twice Dutch champion in the 4x 100 m relay, started his journalistic career in 1945 when he started to work for the newspaper Het Vrije Volk, where he stayed through 1955. He then joined VARA-Radio, where he hosted sports programs. Bob Spaak also worked for the sports magazine Sport en Sportwereld, where he worked together with Martin Bremer, who later became the Secretary of the Board of the Royal Dutch Baseball Federation.

In 1965, Bob Spaak belonged to the first editorial staff of the new magazine Voetbal International. A year later, Spaak started working for NTS-TV (the predecessor of the current NOS). There, he became the Editor-in-Chief of Sport in Beeld, which he turned into the leading sports program on Dutch television. When he started at Sport in Beeld, Spaak led a small editorial staff which also included wellknown commentators and journalists Herman Kuiphof, Koen Verhoeff and Ad van Emmenes. The name of the show was in 1966 changed into NTS Sport, which is kept through 1969. In that year, baseball commentator Ed van Opzeeland came up with the new name Studio Sport, which is still the name today. In his years with the program, Spaak became the mentor of several new commentators and journalists like Mart Smeets (who joined the show in 1974), Theo Reitsma (since 1969) and Hugo Walker (since 1968), whom he learned the 'secrets' of the job. Of this trio, Smeets is still working for the show as its anchorman and one of its commentators. In 2009, NOS Studio Sport celebrated its 50th year on television.

While working for the program, Bob Spaak (who retired in 1982) not only led the editorial staff, but also served as commentator/interviewer himself for several sports, including Olympic Games, World/European Championships Soccer/Speed Skating and the Tour de France. He had a great sense of humour which he also used in his coverage. Bob Spaak also covered the European Baseball Championship in Amsterdam in 1958 and 1962 during (live) broadcasts for NTS-televsion.

During the first and second Haarlem Baseball Week in 1961 and 1963, Bob Spaak was the Public Address Announcer, along with Dick van Rijn (another legendary Dutch sports journalist). The two then informed the spectators in their own unique way what was happening on the field.

(June 12)

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