France Laux, The Sports Voice Of KMOX
France Laux, chief sports announcer of KMOX, has had a brilliant and interesting career ever since his high school days. France’s accurate and interesting description of the baseball games over KMOX has won him the title of “The most listened-to announcer in St. Louis,” and the title is well earned, because when France steps before the microphone and begins to talk, the listener no longer becomes just a listener, for he is seeing the game through the observing eyes of France Laux, who knows baseball. It was Laux who described the World Series games two years ago and it was also Laux who described the World Series Games which were played here in St. Louis this year.
Laux was a former resident of Tulsa and was, three years ago, chief announcer of KVOO, “The Voice of Oklahoma.” He was born in Guthrie and is the son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Frank Laux of Bristow, Oklahoma and the brother of Rodger Laux of Wewoka, Oklahoma.
France Laux has been in the field of athletics ever since his childhood. Even when just a lad of seven or eight years old France was regarded by his playmates as a marvel, because he could throw a baseball farther than any of the rest of the boys in his neighborhood, and from that time on he has held honored positions in the field of sport. In his high school years France played halfback with the Bristow, Oklahoma High School team and was picked for two consecutive years by certain football authorities as the all-star halfback in the high school league of the State of Oklahoma. In high school France earned 16 letters for athletics. He starred in football, baseball, basketball and track, and during the summertime Laux played semi-professional baseball with various Oklahoma teams.
In 1917 when America entered the World War, Laux entered the Army the day after the last football game of the season and served overseas with the U.S. Army Air Service as sergeant in the 259th Aerial Pursuit Squadron for over a year. At the end of the war he returned home and spent the next two years playing semi-professional baseball and managing semi-professional baseball and basketball teams sponsored by the American Legion. In 1921, Laux entered the Oklahoma City College where he played end and earned a considerable record for his dashing end runs which oft times led his team to victory.
After his year at college, Laux was appointed baseball coach at the St. Joseph High School of Oklahoma City, which under his management won the championship of the Catholic League of Oklahoma. During the summer when school was not in session he acted as official scorer for the Oklahoma State League. During the next four years, Laux worked in various capacities in sports. In these years, France was a football referee, coach, manager of baseball and basketball teams and was the referee for the biggest high school football games in the state. Then came the opportunity for Laux to enter the sport field of radio broadcasting. This opportunity came in an unusual and dramatic manner.
The World Series game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Yankees was to be broadcast by ticker over KVOO. Through some disagreement, the sports announcer of this station left the station without notice. Harry Hutchinson, manager of the station was panicky and wondered who he could employ to announce this important game, which would be played in less than an hour. There was only one man in the state who was familiar enough with baseball to do this difficult job; he was France Laux.
Hutchinson rushed to the telephone and tried to reach France by long distance but France had left his home and was somewhere in the downtown district of Bristow, which is 45 minutes from Tulsa. Hutchinson decided that only one thing could be done. He must drive to Bristow, find Laux and get him back to the studios in time for the game. Hutchinson left the studios at break neck speed and dashed madly over the streets looking for Laux. Finally, he spotted him sauntering down the street with bundles under his arm.
Laux had been shopping. “France,” he cried. “You’ve got to come with me and announce the World Series” “How long before the game starts?” inquired France. “My God, in 50 minutes,” cried Hutchinson, “and we’ve got 45 miles to go.” “Well, let’s get started,” Laux replied, and away they drove at a mile a minute speed. But luck was with them and they arrived at the studios with one and a half minutes to spare.
Right then and there began France’s radio career. France did such a splendid job announcing this game and received so many favorable comments from the listening audience that he was hired as the chief sport announcer at the station. In his two years stay at KVOO, he announced all baseball games and some of the biggest football games in the country, including games of the “Big Six” and the Missouri Valley Conference.
In the Spring of 1929, KMOX was in need of a sports announcer, one who could fittingly describe the big league games played in St. Louis and elsewhere. In looking over the country for such an announcer who could do this, the management heard of Laux. He was brought to St. Louis and given a trial which was so satisfactory that he was immediately hired, and since that time, Laux has been associated with KMOX. Now a veteran of the game, he is regarded as one of the best baseball announcers in the country.
(Originally published in Radio and Entertainment 12/19/1931).