"Helfer never asked God for presence. It came, like manna, from above.”
“A guy in Oklahoma devoured baseball in the paper,” said Mutual broadcast executive Paul Jonas, “Now he’s hearing Helfer each day.”
The self-described “Ghost of Hartsdale” – in reference to his time away from home – finally signed off from Mutual in 1954 on the advice of his doctors. He returned to Ebbets Field in 1956 and on Sept. 24, 1957 announced the hometown “Bums” to the Brooklyn crowd before their final game in the borough. When the Dodgers left, Helfer filled the gap by broadcasting Phillies games to baseball-starved Brooklynites over New York television station WOR.
When baseball expanded west, Helfer rode the wave, making stops with the expansion Houston Colt. 45s (1962) and later the Oakland A’s (1968-69). He retired from big league booths following the 1969 season with 10 All-Star Games and six World Series calls to his credit with Mutual and NBC.
Al Helfer passed away in May 1975 in Sacramento, Calif.
“Helfer never asked God for presence,” wrote broadcast historian Curt Smith. “It came, like manna, from above.”