Lanny Lee Larson, better known by Tom Larson, whose sports broadcasting career spanned nearly four decades, died this week in Virginia, his family confirmed to the Boston Globe. Larson was 84.
Larson had previously been diagnosed with cancer.
The former longtime Boston Bruins and Boston Red Sox television host famously vowed to forgo shaving his beard until the city’s NHL franchise won the Stanley Cup. Larson made the leap to Boston in the late 60s after spending time in Illinois and Lansing, Michigan.
Larson’s legendary career with the Bruins television crew started during the 1969-70 season. He hosted the pregame and postgame studio shows.
The Bruins had a pair of remarkable seasons in the early portion of Larson’s stint, winning championships in 1970 and 1972, but it would take nearly four more decades for the franchise to bring home another championship.
Larson’s pledge to not shave his beard ultimately lasted until well after his retirement — when the Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks to end the 39-year drought.
“During the mid-70s, I’d grown a beard, and there was a lot of negative reaction to it,” Larson said in 2011.
“They were calling me ‘Pinko’, ‘Commie’ and [saying] how they couldn’t enjoy watching the hockey game because Larson had a beard and all of this.
“But it struck me that if I said I wouldn’t shave it until the Bruins won the Stanley Cup, the reaction would be different. It would be, ‘Yeah Larson, alright!’ Now it’s connected with Bruins success!”
Larson later admitted that he did not anticipate that the championship drought would last for so long.
“I had no idea it was going to be 30 years,” he admitted.
In the 1980s, Larson was the sports director WHDH radio. He later joined the New England Sports Network, popularly known as NESN, shortly after the regional sports network’s inception.
Larson was a television host for the Red Sox during his time at NESN and was also a contributing writer.