His play-by-play descriptions and famous phrase, "He shoots! He scores!" became familiar to fans from coast to coast.
In 1922 Foster Hewitt was only 20 years old when he was assigned to announce the first radio broadcast of a hockey game by his employer, Canada Covers America First!, a radio station owned by the Toronto Star newspaper. Reporting on the game from a cramped glass box far above the ice, it was during this game that Hewitt first uttered his famous phrase, “He shoots, he scores!” After the broadcast, letters from listeners began pouring it; its popularity with listeners was unprecedented. Though officially a reporter, Hewitt began live broadcasting of hockey, lacrosse, sculling, motorboat and motorcycle races, sailing, football and baseball.
It was broadcasting hockey, however, where Hewitt really made his mark. In concert with Toronto Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe, Hewitt formed a company and began broadcasting all Maple Leafs games, doing so over the objections of many of the Maple Leafs’ Directors, who felt that broadcasting would hurt ticket sales. Needless to say, the directors were wrong. Soon, companies looking for popular programs in which to place advertising became interested in hockey broadcasts. In 1931, General Motors became the first corporate sponsor of a Saturday Night hockey broadcast, beginning a tradition that continues with Labatt’s Hockey Night in Canada today. This work would make Foster Hewitt a household name across the country, and a near institution in the history of Canadian sport.
Hewitt died in 1985. His honours include the Order of Canada, and inductions into the Hockey Hall of Fame and the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.
Foster Hewitt of Toronto. A Footprint on Saturday Night in Canadian sports.