He wasn’t just the voice of New Orleans sports. He was the voice of New Orleans, period.

A portrait of Hap Glaudi by artist Michael McManus of Where Y'Art, as commissioned by NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune for its "300 for 300" celebration of New Orleans' tricentennial. (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)
A portrait of Hap Glaudi by artist Michael McManus of Where Y'Art, as commissioned by NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune for its "300 for 300" celebration of New Orleans' tricentennial. (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

The Times-Picayune is marking the tricentennial of New Orleans with its ongoing 300 for 300 project, running through 2018 and highlighting 300 people who have made New Orleans New Orleans, featuring original artwork commissioned by NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune with Where Y'Art gallery. Today: sportswriter and broadcaster Hap Glaudi.

The icon: Hap Glaudi.

The legacy: "I Speak As I Please": That was the name Hap Glaudi chose for his sports column in his more than 20 years years writing for The New Orleans Item. Later, he would use that same title for his editorial segments on WWL-TV and WWL radio. There was a good reason he used it for so long: because he meant it. Being a rare sports journalist with an opinion at the time, Glaudi spoke as he pleased in his pull-no-punches commentary from the 1940s through the 1980s. Perhaps more significantly, though, "I Speak As I Please" also applied to his unapologetic, tell-tale 9th Ward accent, which endeared him to listeners through the New Orleans area. He was undeniably knowledgeable about sports, and that was important. But even more important was the fact that he was just Hap: a folksy, genuine, meet-you-at-the-corner-bar New Orleans character. When WWL-TV parted ways with him in 1978, outraged viewers picketed the station in protest. Because Hap wasn't just some talking head. He was one of theirs.

The artist: Michael McManus.

The quote: "If you're wondering why Hap endured in a medium he found uncomfortable, it's simply because he never tried to be anything he wasn't. He remained a newsman with opinions, with insight, with a common touch, with a special feel for his city." -- The Times-Picayune's Peter Finney, in a 1989 column

Explore more of McManus' work online at WhereYart.net and in person at the Where Y'Art gallery, 1901 Royal St.

  • Lloyd Alfred "Hap" Glaudi was born Nov. 7, 1912, in New Orleans.
  • After graduating from B.M. Palmer Grammar School, Glaudi dropped out of school and took a job as a stable boy at a local race track. (Some accounts say it was at the old Jefferson racetrack; others put him at the Fair Grounds.)
  • While he was working at the track, a jockey named Pat Garrity asked the young Glaudi to place a $5 bet for him on a horse named Tiger Flowers. Glaudi agreed, placing the bet at Oakley Harris' Crescent City Billiard Hall -- and putting down a $2 bet for himself. Tiger Flowers won, paying $136 on that $7 investment.
  • Glaudi used his winnings to go back to school, putting it down as a first payment at Jesuit High. He soon distinguished himself as a writer with the school paper, The Blue Jay.
  • It was at Jesuit where he reportedly earned the nickname of "Hap," because he was always happy.
  • As it turns out, the son of Fred Digby -- then the sports editor at The New Orleans Item -- attended Jesuit with Glaudi, leading Digby to read some of Glaudi's work in The Blue Jay. He told the young writer that if didn't have college plans, a job would be waiting for him at The Item. Three days after his high school graduation, Glaudi took Digby up on the offer. Against all odds, he was a professional journalist, with prep sports a particular focus. Digby would become his mentor.
  • Glaudi would eventually continue his education at Loyola University.
  • When Digby left the paper, Glaudi took over as sports editor. He was 24 at the time.
  • After The Item merged with The States in 1958, Glaudi moved on to a job at a paper in Evansville, Indiana, in what he called "my Siberian exile," according to former Times-Picayune columnist Peter Finney. He was back in New Orleans in three years, taking a job as sports director at WWL-TV.
  • Glaudi initially turned down the WWL role; he only auditioned as a favor to then-news-director Phil Johnson. Besides, Glaudi later recalled, his audition went terribly. But Johnson pressed him. When he turned down the job offer a second time, as the story goes, a bolt of lightning hit the station and fried the TV in Johnson's office. Glaudi changed his mind on the spot. "I just got my sign," Glaudi told Johnson. "I'll take it."
  • In the straight-laced world of TV -- back when sports announcers did little more than read scores -- Glaudi became known for his warmth, offering birthday and anniversary wishes to viewers over the airwaves, as well as expressing his opinion.
  • Glaudi was an early adopter of the broadcast practice of engaging in lighthearted banter with others on the anchor desk -- or "happy talk," as it became known -- something that was not generally done at the time.
  • In 1964, he appeared on an episode of "Gunsmoke," part of a CBS strategy to draw viewers by casting broadcast personalities from its affiliate markets in bit parts. His character's name: Hap.
  • Starting in 1978, he also hosted a nightly sports-focused talk show on WWL radio. He also did a post-game analysis after New Orleans Saints games that was called "Hap's Point After."
  • In 1978, WWL-TV made the decision to replace Glaudi with a newcomer named Jim Henderson. Local viewers picketed the station in protest but Henderson eventually won them over, forging a legendary sportscasting career himself.
  • Glaudi died of lung cancer at East Jefferson Hospital in December 1989. He was 77.
  • A year later, in 1990, Glaudi was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
Source: The Times-Picayune archives; staff research

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