Original Saints play-by-play announcer Al Wester dies

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The original Voice of the Saints is gone.

Al Wester, who served as play-by-play voice of the Saints on radio from 1967-70, died Wednesday in New Orleans after a brief illness. He was 93.

In those first four years, Wester called two plays that to this day remain among the most significant in Saints history – the opening 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by John Gilliam in the franchise’s first game against the Los Angeles Rams on Sept. 17, 1967, and the 63-yard field goal by Tom Dempsey on Nov. 8, 1970 – which stood as an NFL record for more than 30 years – as the Saints beat the Detroit Lions 19-17, both at old Tulane Stadium.

Nationally, Wester was best known for his work with the Mutual Broadcasting System – now Westwood One – working on Notre Dame football radio broadcasts from 1968-82 alongside Van Patrick, Don Criqui, Pat Sheridan, Ralph Guglielmi and Tony Roberts. He also was an analyst on Mutual’s coverage of Monday Night Football from 1972-77.

While Wester broadcast the Olympics, other NFL and college football games, baseball, championship boxing, auto and horse racing for Mutual, his favorite sport may have been golf. Wester – who is believed to have covered more than 300,000 rounds of golf – founded the U.S. Championship Golf Network in 1983, was a regular at The Masters for more than a half-century and was honored by Augusta National in 2007, and also received the Babe Zaharias LPGA Journalism Award in 2003.

Wester began his career in 1949 at WGTN Radio in Georgetown, South Carolina. From there, he made the jump to the relatively new medium of television and to New Orleans’ WDSU-TV.

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