Musburger isn’t retiring any time soon: ‘I would be watching them on TV anyway, so why not go out and get paid for it?’

Tuesday, I did a long story in USA Today about the significant number of announcers/analysts still going strong in their 70s, and even 80s, in TV sports at the national and local levels. It is unprecedented.

The list includes Vin Scully, Dick Vitale, Marv Albert, Verne Lundquist, Lee Corso, among others.

I talked to several of the prominent names, except one: Brent Musburger, still going strong at 74.

A little background: My connection with Musburger goes deep into my sports roots. Prior to becoming a big national star at CBS, he was the local sports anchor for WBBM-Ch. 2 during the 70s in Chicago. In the days before ESPN and the Internet, I grew up getting my sports news from Musburger. He was tremendous back then, and it didn’t take long before CBS Sports gave him the keys to the entire enterprise. In some way, I imagine he helped lay the foundation for me wanting to be a sportswriter.

So naturally I wanted to talk to Musburger. However, after several requests to ESPN, I was told that he wasn’t doing interviews at this time.

In the USA Today piece, I wrote:

With his contract expiring at ESPN this summer, Musburger is turning down interview requests. There has been talk that the network will make Chris Fowler their lead play-by-play voice for college football.

Wildhack wouldn’t talk specifically about Musburger’s situation other than, “My hope is that Brent will be with ESPN for years to come.”

OK, fine, I understood that. However, last week I saw Jason Lisk of Big Lead did a behind-the-scenes story on Musburger, Fran Fraschilla, Holly Rowe and the ESPN production crew during a basketball game at Kansas. The story included quotes from Musburger.

When I pointed out to ESPN that Musburger spoke to Big Lead, I was told that this was a different circumstance with the reporter being on campus. OK, whatever.

However, I felt bad there weren’t any Musburger quotes represented in my story. So I wanted to include his sentiments from the Big Lead story here about still being on top of his game in his 70s.

Lisk writes:

Another way that Musburger stays young? He never thinks he has it all figured out. “I guess my father taught me at a very young age. It’s what you learn — after you think you know it all — that matters. And I’ll learn something tonight about one of these kids.” He specifically cites his change in opinion of Andrew Wiggins, a player he thought was unprepared and overhyped at the start of the season, but now sees as ready to start in the NBA.

He also shows off that humor when discussing the pre-game preparation that includes chatting with the officials before the broadcast. “With Bob [Knight], a couple of them would come over, and there might be one go hide in the corner somewhere [laughs]. With Fran, they all come over.”

He didn’t want to talk about how long he could do this, or envision what it would be like to retire. “I’ve been married fifty years now. My wife will tell you it’s more like twenty-five because I’ve traveled so much. I’m not sure that she would be able to tolerate me around the house, 24/7 every day.”

It isn’t work when you love what you do, and Musburger still loves every event. “It’s energizing, and wherever I go, like I spent the week in Vegas doing the Vegas game, got a lot of friends in that town, a lot of people I like to talk to, and, listen, if I wasn’t doing these games, I would be watching them on TV anyway, so why not go out and get paid for it?”

And I loved this passage from Musburger:

“What are the best things you ever do? I hope it’s tonight, I hope that this game goes five overtimes, with a buzzer beater to end it. I’m more interested in how Oklahoma is going to stay in this game from the get go.”

“If—if—I was not interested, you would be conducting this interview over the telephone, with me touring some exotic place with my wife, like Singapore—I throw that out because I’ve got in my mind I might want to go there—and I would not be around. If I was not interested, then I’m not around you, I’m out. The day I say I’m not interested in whatever event I’m covering, then I’m done, okay. I’m out. For me, the biggest thing on my mind is tonight.”

Musburger did not address his future at ESPN with Big Lead. Clearly, though, he isn’t retiring anytime soon. The kid who grew up watching him in Chicago is very thankful for that.


Bonnie Bernstein on new role behind the camera: ‘So much more me than the chick you see on the air’

My latest column for the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana University is on a career transition for Bonnie Bernstein. After more than two decades as an on-air personality, she is relishing her new behind-the-scenes role in shaping Campus Insiders.

From the column:


The calendar is turned, and Bonnie Bernstein is gearing up for a busy March. That’s nothing new for the long-time sideline reporter for CBS and ESPN.

Yet this won’t be the usual routine for Bernstein. She is taking a different view these days of “March Madness” and college sports.

Bernstein is an integral part of Campus Insiders. It is a new high-tech, high volume college sports site. Campus Insiders is a big money initiative of IMG and Silver Chalice, a business division of the Chicago White Sox. It has contributing reporters on virtually every campus; digital rights deals for games with several conferences; and partnerships with companies such as Cadillac.

Naturally, Bernstein is featured on the Chicago-based network. She hosted a daily show during the football season and will be doing interviews and other appearances during March Madness. CBS and Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis also does a bi-weekly show for Campus Insiders.

Bernstein’s card, though, reads: vice-president of content and brand development/On-air host. While she is considered a primary face of the network, her primary role is behind the scenes.

Bernstein spends the bulk of her time on the marketing end, meeting with potential business partners. She also is heavily involved in the process guiding the content for Campus Insiders.

Now 43, Bernstein sought to do more with her career than to catch a few sound bites from a coach coming off the field. Not that’s there anything wrong sideline work, but there was a sense of been-there, done-that for her. She wanted more.

“When I hit 40, I remember thinking, it’s time to start thinking about 2.0, and what’s that going to look like, because I don’t want to just be talent the rest of my life,” Bernstein said. “Some people take the on air role and just run with it. It’s not that I don’t, I certainly do, and I always will. But I knew I wanted to start getting behind the camera.”

After more than two decades on TV, Bernstein actually feels she always has been better suited for this role. She insists she isn’t a make-up person and cracked, “I am the furthest thing from a fashionista that you will ever find.”

When countered that she always looks nice on TV, Bernstein said, “slap makeup on a pig, it’s still a pig.”

Again, you would get some dispute about Bernstein’s self-description, but here is her point.

“(The make-up and clothes are) not me,” Bernstein said. “This is my TV persona. When I’m sitting in these meetings and brainstorming about what our social media strategy should be, how we can tweak the show to make it more compelling to our target demographic, who do we want to go out and approach as sponsors and what’s our philosophy on approaching a sponsor…? All of these strategic conversations that I’m having, that’s so much more me than the chick you see on the air.”


And there’s more from Bernstein in the rest of the column.


Still awesome, babeee! Unprecedented era of 70-and-over announcers/analysts working at top of their games

I did a piece for USA Today on a remarkable trend: A huge number of announcers/analysts in their 70s who still are working the big games. It is unprecedented in TV history.

An excerpt from the story.


Dick Vitale turns 75 in June. He has been around so long that sports viewers born in 1979, when he began at ESPN, are veering toward middle age.

Yet Vitale, the former college and NBA coach, has no intention of getting off the thrill ride that has been his sportscasting career. And why should he? When he walks into arenas, the first sight of the familiar bald head sparks cries of “Awesome, Baby!” and “PTPer” from college kids who still devour his shtick the way their parents did at that age.

Vitale absorbs the energy that comes his way as if it would allow him to turn back the clock.

“I never have had a problem relating to young kids,” Vitale said. “I love being around them. They keep you young. If you didn’t tell me I was 74, and if I didn’t look in the mirror, I wouldn’t even know it.”

Vitale is at the forefront of an unprecedented trend in sports television. Long gone is mandatory retirement age, which led to then-CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite leaving the network nine months before his 65th birthday.

For all the talk about catering to the young demographic, there never has been a time with so many announcers and analysts older than 70 who continue to be featured in high-profile sports coverage by the networks.

This year’s Bowl Championship Series title game was called by Brent Musburger, who turns 75 in May, and the soundtrack for the NBA All-Star Game on TV was provided by Marv Albert, 72. Verne Lundquist, 73, works the big Southeastern Conference football games for CBS and on Feb. 23 called Michigan’s basketball victory against Michigan State with Bill Raftery, 70.

The loudest cheers for ESPN’s GameDay studio show on college campuses in the fall are for Lee Corso, 78. And the 70s club will get a high-profile addition in November when Al Michaels celebrates a big birthday.

At the local level, there are numerous team announcers and analysts who continue to thrive into their 70s, preeminently, Los Angeles Dodgers play-by-play man Vin Scully, who signed on for another season at 86. Dick Enberg, 79, has called San Diego Padres games since the 2010 season. The 2013 World Series marked the Fox Sports farewell of Tim McCarver, 72, but he signed to do some St. Louis Cardinals games this year.

Albert insists he doesn’t pay attention to his age. He cracked, “Seventy is the new 68.”

If anything, he contends he is improving with age.

“I feel I’m better now than I ever have been,” Albert said. “You learn so much as you’re doing it. I’m watching tapes, and I’ll see things that get me annoyed and where I know I can improve. I love what I’m doing. As long as I can stay at the same standard, there’s no reason to stop. It feels pretty good.”


Here is the link to the entire the story.



Jerry Remy to return to Red Sox booth in wake of son being charged with murder; ‘Only thing I know how to do’

You could feel Jerry Remy’s heartbreak and anguish in this story by the Boston Globe’s Chad Finn. He had been on a leave of absence since August when his son, Jared, was charged with murdering his girlfriend.

Finn reports:

Remy, who was solemn and candid during a meeting with a small group of reporters at NESN’s Brighton headquarters, had not spoken publicly since his son’s arrest.

“I felt for a couple of months, for two or three months, that it was over,’’ Remy said. “There’s no way I was coming back. I had two main concerns: What the public would think and whether I could be myself. The answers at that time [in November and December] were no.”

Remy, 61, said he had a circle of three friends and his wife, Phoebe, who urged him to reconsider. But he didn’t change his mind until after the new year.

“[They reminded] me about my career, and where it came from, and where it is,’’ said Remy, a lung cancer survivor who said he made the decision about a week ago after his most recent CAT scan came back clean.

“When I got drafted as a baseball player, I got drafted [late], and I made it to the big leagues. I wanted to quit, my father talked me out of it. When I started this job, [I was] awful. I was terrible. I couldn’t wait for the first season to be over. I wanted out. Didn’t quit. Continued on for 26 years.

“When I got cancer, I wanted to quit. I didn’t, it drove me to depression, it came back, I continued on. Some of these things started to resonate a little bit with me.

“I don’t intend to be a quitter. Don’t intent to be one now. It’s what I do. It’s what I know. It’s what my comfort level is. It’s where I feel I belong and I feel I’m going to do so as long as possible. I hope in no way that my decision to come back to do games has a negative impact on the Martel family. I’m quite certain they understand I have to make a living, and unfortunately mine is in the public eye. I’m quite certain they understand that.”

More from Finn:

Remy said he would not address his situation during the Red Sox’ first broadcast this season, acknowledging that the reason he was speaking now was to hopefully prevent it from being a story in spring training. But he said he recognizes that there are some people who don’t believe he should come back, and that as more details emerge about his son’s past – the trial is currently set to begin in October – there could be some backlash against Remy, who is notoriously private outside of his public life.

“It’s not easy. It’s not easy,’’ Remy said. “There’s going to be more stuff that comes out … I think it’s pretty clear what’s going to happen. I’m trying to take it one step at a time. I know that’s a cliché, but that’s the only thing we can possible do. Criticism hurts, obviously. The fact that you’re not good parents. Call me a bad father if you want, but I’ll be damned if my wife’s not a good parent.”


Remy informed longtime broadcast partner Don Orsillo Monday that he would return. The banter between the broadcasters has long been a part of their appeal. Orsillo asked him a pointed question: How can they can be light and fun again?

“If I didn’t think I couldn’t be myself, I wouldn’t do it,” Remy said. “I hope that doesn’t come off as insensitive. It may be to some. But that’s the only way I know how to do my job.

“I’m sure there will be people who are very upset with me. It’s the only way I know how to do a game. I’ve thought of all these things a thousand times, believe me.”


Not done yet: Tim McCarver to call 30 St. Louis Cardinals games next year

Tim McCarver said he wasn’t retiring. Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports he is going back to where it all started.

McCarver, 72, confirmed Thursday night that he has reached an agreement to do about 30 Cardinals games this season for Fox Sports Midwest.

“The deal has not been completed — but it will,’’ he said, adding that the dates he’ll be working still are to be finalized. “We’ll get it straightened out. I know I’ll be doing Cardinal games, I just don’t know the exact situation.’’

FSM general manager Jack Donovan was unavailable for comment.The pending move, which was reported in December in this space as being likely, follows the announcement this week that Cards radio broadcaster Mike Shannon will drop about 50 road games from his workload. FSM analysts Al Hrabosky and Rick Horton are to replace Shannon, 74, on a rotating basis on those radio broadcasts. That makes it easy to add McCarver to the TV side.

Great to see, and it will be a treat for Cardinals fans.


New format reduces odds some announcers will be alive when they get Hall of Fame honor

The Baseball Hall of Fame has enacted a new format for its Ford Frick Award this year. It might not be so good for some of the older candidates.

Put it this way: When their names finally are called for the Frick, they might have been called elsewhere first, if you know what I mean.

The Hall of Fame explained its new format on its site:

The 2014 Frick Award ballot reflects recent changes in the selection process where eligible candidates are grouped together by years of most significant contributions of their broadcasting careers. The new cycle begins with the High Tide Era, which features broadcasters whose main body of work came from the mid-1980s – the start of the regional cable network era – through the present.

The new three-year cycle for the Frick Award will continue in the fall of 2014 with the Living Room Era, which will feature candidates whose most significant years fell during the mid-1950s through the early 1980s. In the fall of 2015, candidates will be considered from the Broadcasting Dawn Era, which features candidates from the earliest days of broadcasting into the early 1950s.

The idea, says Brad Horn of the Hall, is to give recognition to some of the overlooked pioneers in the baseball booth. The winners are strongly tilted toward the modern era.

I have no problem with recognizing announcers like Graham McNamee, who called the first World Series games on radio in the 20s. However, here’s the problem.

For the current candidates, instead of being up for the Frick every year, now they’ll only have a chance to win the award once every three years, and only three times over nine years.

When I mentioned to White Sox announcer Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, 72, that some of the guys might not be around to accept the award under the new format, he cracked, “Yeah, and I’m one of them.”

With Eric Nadel of the Texas Rangers winning the award today, long-time Cardinals announcer Mike Shannon, 74, now will have to wait another three years for another shot at the Frick. The same holds true for former Atlanta Braves announcer Pete Van Wieren, who will be 72 in 2016.

The other living finalists are in their 60s, and time will continue to march on when they come up for consideration again.

The finalists on this year’s list all have worthy Frick credentials and more current announcers and analysts will merit consideration in future years. Yet only three of them will get tabbed in roughly a decade. It seems a bit unfair given the explosion of baseball TV and radio in the modern era.

Here’s a simple solution: Honor a current announcer and one from baseball’s past on an annual basis. It is roughly the same format the Hall uses for players with its veterans’ committee.

Hopefully, the Hall will reconsider its new format.






Nov. 22, 1963: Lundquist never got to hear Kennedy speak in Austin; his memories

It loomed as a memorable day for Verne Lundquist when he went to work at an Austin, Tex. TV station on Nov. 22, 1963. He was looking forward to seeing President John F. Kennedy speak later that day in town.

Fifty years later, Lundquist remembers vividly how his day and the nation’s suddenly changed.

“I was on an earlier shift, working the board,” Lundquist said. “I had been invited by a good friend of mine to hear Kennedy speak. Her dad was the general manager of the station, and he gave me permission to not do the show that night so I could take her to hear the president’s speech.

“I was on the phone with her 12:25 p.m. (going over the details), when the news anchor broke into the control room and said, ‘Give me the microphone. The President has been shot.’ That’s how I heard about it.”

Then Lundquist recalled things got surreal.

“I swear to God, within an hour, we had secret service people blanketing the building. Nobody knew at the time if there was some kind of coup going on. Because the president was destined to come to Austin, and because (Lyndon Johnson) owned the only station in town, they were all over the building just in case.”

Only 23 at the time, Lundquist suddenly found himself assisting in CBS’ coverage. He was assigned to drive around a network correspondent to Johnson’s home town of Johnson City.

“We spent 8 or 9 hours there collecting information on the new president,” Lundquist said. “Television was in its infancy back then. The idea of going live (from a remote location) was not that easy. It required land lines. We shot all the film, and then they flew it back on an overnight flight to New York to so they could use it over the weekend.”

Looking back, Lundquist said, “I was a witness to history, absolutely.”

There are a couple of postscripts, he said.

“You remember Pete Rozelle allowed the NFL to play games on that Sunday (following the assassination,” Lundquist said. “Well, on the following Friday night, I was on the sidelines with my 16 mm. camera covering state high school football playoff game. The juxtaposition of priorities was really extraordinary.”

Once Johnson settled in as president, Lundquist received an unexpected education from some of the top journalists in the business.

“When Johnson would come home for the summer, the White House press corps would stay in Austin,” Lundquist said. “There was a hangout that they all went to in town. I was 24-years-old and I got to mingle and meet these guys. Here I was having a beer with George Herman. I was in their world. To sit and listen at the feet of those fellas is something I’ll treasure for the rest of my life.”




Olbermann on impact of Bill Mazer: Sports talk pioneer ‘changed lives of sports fans’

Keith Olbermann opened this piece by saying, “Bill Mazer died today. You probably didn’t know him. Your life as a sports fan, however, was utterly changed by him.”

Find out why from Olbermann, who worked as an intern for Mazer, and others.

Neil Best in Newsday:

Perhaps Mazer’s greatest historical claim to fame was as host of the first regularly scheduled sports call-in show — which premiered on WNBC radio on March 30, 1964.

In what is believed to be his final interview, with Newsday in 2011, Mazer looked back at that day and how it all began.

“The first call was a kid, and he said, ‘I just want to ask you one question,’ ” Mazer said. “I said, ‘OK, go ahead.’ He said, ‘Who’s better: Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle?’ “

It was a question that launched countless more, leading eventually to the first full-time sports talk station, WFAN, in 1987, and eventually hundreds of others around the country.

Bob Raissman in the New York Daily News:

There’s this notion that there was no sportstalk radio before Bill Mazer hit New York City in 1964 to stake his claim as the Christopher Columbus of yakk when he started taking calls on WNBC-AM. That’s sort of a myth, but who’s counting? A cat named Benny the Fan had done a show. Marty Glickman, too.

Mazer did it differently. He perfected and personalized it. The man absolutely made a one-on-one connection, especially with kids. It didn’t matter where you were listening or calling from — Mazer was speaking to nobody else but you.


From Richard Goldstein’s obituary in the New York Times:

Mr. Mazer had been covering sports at radio and TV stations in Buffalo for 16 years when he was hired by WNBC-AM in March 1964. It was unveiling an innovative talk format.

“Here, Go Nag WNBC!” the station said in a March 1964 advertisement. “Listen to the Newest Sound in New York — your own voice and your neighbor’s — on WNBC Radio, 660 on the dial.”

The station invited listeners to pick up their phones and “talk sports with Bill Mazer from 4:30-6 p.m.”

Mr. Mazer held down the sports call-in spot while others, including Brad Crandall, Long John Nebel and Big Wilson, fielded calls on just about anything else.

From the New York Post:

“He had the ability to take sports facts and trivia and relate it to the here and now,’’ his son Arnie told The Post. “He combined the experience of seeing sports of the 1920s and related it to the present day. He could easily relate the past to the present and the present to the past and the past to the future.’’

Mazer’s last stint was as a radio host for WVOS in Westchester until he was 88. His funeral service will be held Sunday in White Plains.

“He was the pioneer of sports talk radio, and what I remember most about Bill was his passion for what he was doing,” broadcaster Marv Albert said. “He just loved being around people talking about sports all the time.”


Ford Frick candidates: Castiglione, Shannon, Harrelson up for Hall of Fame broadcast honor

Who gets the nod? I’ll have more thoughts on this soon.

From the Hall of Fame:


Ten of the National Pastime’s iconic voices have been named as the finalists for the 2014 Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually for excellence in baseball broadcasting by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

The 10 finalists for the 2014 Frick Award are: Joe Castiglione, Jacques Doucet, Ken Harrelson, Bill King, Duane Kuiper, Eric Nadel, Eduardo Ortega, Mike Shannon, Dewayne Staats and Pete van Wieren. The winner of the 2014 Frick Award will be announced on December 11 at the Baseball Winter Meetings and will be honored during the July 26 Awards Presentation as part of Hall of Fame Weekend 2014 in Cooperstown.

The 10 finalists for the 2014 Frick Award include the three fan selections produced from online balloting at the Hall of Fame’s Facebook site – – in September. A total of 20,968 votes were cast. Doucet, King and Kuiper emerged as the top three fan selections in the online voting. The other seven candidates were chosen by a Hall of Fame research committee. All broadcasters on the ballot, with the exception of King and van Wieren, are active. All the finalists except for King are living.

The 2014 Frick Award ballot reflects recent changes in the selection process where eligible candidates are grouped together by years of most significant contributions of their broadcasting careers. The new cycle begins with the High Tide Era, which features broadcasters whose main body of work came from the mid-1980s – the start of the regional cable network era – through the present.

The new three-year cycle for the Frick Award will continue in the fall of 2014 with the Living Room Era, which will feature candidates whose most significant years fell during the mid-1950s through the early 1980s. In the fall of 2015, candidates will be considered from the Broadcasting Dawn Era, which features candidates from the earliest days of broadcasting into the early 1950s.

Final voting for the 2014 Frick Award will be conducted by a 20-member electorate, comprised of the 16 living Frick Award recipients and five broadcast historians/columnists, including past Frick honorees Marty Brennaman, Jerry Coleman, Gene Elston, Joe Garagiola, Jaime Jarrin, Milo Hamilton, Tony Kubek, Tim McCarver, Denny Matthews, Jon Miller, Felo Ramirez, Vin Scully, Lon Simmons, Bob Uecker, Dave Van Horne and Bob Wolff, and historians/columnists Bob Costas (NBC), Barry Horn (Dallas Morning News), Ted Patterson (historian) and Curt Smith (historian).

To be considered, an active or retired broadcaster must have a minimum of 10 years of continuous major league broadcast service with a ball club, network, or a combination of the two. More than 160 broadcasters were eligible for consideration for the award based on these qualifications for 2014.

The 10 finalists for the 2014 Frick Award:

Castiglione has spent 33 years calling big league games, the last 30 as the Red Sox’s lead radio voice;

Doucet spent 34 years broadcasting for the Expos as the play-by-play radio voice on their French network (1969-2004), and he returned to the booth in 2012 for select games as the Blue Jays’ French-speaking TV voice;

Harrelson has brought a passionate voice to the air for the Red Sox, Yankees and White Sox, including 27 years in Chicago;

King worked for 25 seasons (1981-2005) as the A’s lead play-by-play voice on radio;

Kuiper has called games for 28 seasons, all but one with the Giants after spending 1993 with the expansion Rockies;

Nadel has spent the last 35 seasons with the Rangers – the longest tenure of any announcer in franchise history – including the last 21 as the club’s lead play-by-play voice;

Ortega has handled Spanish-language MLB broadcasts for 27 years, including the last 21 as the voice of the Padres on radio and TV;

Shannon has called Cardinals games for 42 years following a nine-year playing career with the Redbirds;

Staats has called big league games for 36 years, including the last 16 as the voice of the Rays.

Van Wieren called Braves games on television and radio from 1976-2008.


Additional biographical information on the 10 finalists can be found at Voters are asked to base their selections on the following criteria: longevity; continuity with a club; honors, including national assignments such as the World Series and All-Star Games; and popularity with fans.


The annual award is named in memory of Hall of Famer Ford C. Frick, renowned sportswriter, radio broadcaster, National League president and Baseball commissioner. Past recipients of the Ford C. Frick Award:



1978 Mel Allen 1990 By Saam 2003 Bob Uecker
  Red Barber 1991 Joe Garagiola 2004 Lon Simmons
1979 Bob Elson 1992 Milo Hamilton 2005 Jerry Coleman
1980 Russ Hodges 1993 Chuck Thompson 2006 Gene Elston
1981 Ernie Harwell 1994 Bob Murphy 2007 Denny Matthews
1982 Vin Scully 1995 Bob Wolff 2008 Dave Niehaus
1983 Jack Brickhouse 1996 Herb Carneal 2009 Tony Kubek
1984 Curt Gowdy 1997 Jimmy Dudley 2010 Jon Miller
1985 Buck Canel 1998 Jaime Jarrin 2011 Dave Van Horne
1986 Bob Prince 1999 Arch McDonald 2012 Tim McCarver
1987 Jack Buck 2000 Marty Brennaman 2013 Tom Cheek
1988 Lindsey Nelson 2001 Felo Ramirez    
1989 Harry Caray 2002 Harry Kalas    


New HBO documentary: ‘Glickman’ finally places legendary announcer in national spotlight

My latest National Sports Journalism Center column is on Glickman, the upcoming HBO documentary on Marty Glickman. I had a chance to talk to the film’s producer, James Freedman, who worked for Glickman when he was 17.

For those of you who never heard of his story and his obstacles with Anti-Semitism, read on. And I highly recommend you watch this film.


When I was coming up as a sports journalist in Chicago during the 80s, I only had a vague notion of Marty Glickman. I always had heard he was an iconic, trend-setting pioneer in sports broadcasting.

Yet in the days before cable and satellite radio, I had no real idea of why New Yorkers held him in the same reverence as they do in Los Angeles for Vin Scully, or why he was considered one of the most influential announcers ever to sit behind a mic.

A new documentary, Glickman (HBO, Monday, 9 p.m. ET), provides the answers. The film’s producer, James L. Freedman, who was a producer on Glickman’s WNEW radio show when he only was 17, wanted to give a true legend the national exposure his life deserved.

“When I moved to the West Coast, I was stunned nobody ever heard of him,” Freedman said. “If you grew up in New England during the latter part of the 20th Century, he was part of the soundtrack of your life. His story was so remarkable, I want people to learn about Marty Glickman from this film.”

Indeed, Glickman lived a truly incredible life. He gained notoriety first as an athlete. He was an accomplished sprinter, earning a spot on the 1936 U.S. Olympic team, and a star football player at Syracuse. None other than Jim Brown, a pretty fair running back Syracuse, praised his play for the Orangeman in the film.

Glickman eventually went into broadcasting. He basically invented the play-by-play template for basketball with his work on college games and the Knicks. He also was a memorable radio voice for the New York Giants and later the Jets. Along the way, his style and hands-on mentoring had a direct and profound impact on Marv Albert, Bob Costas, Mike Breen, Charlie Steiner and countless others.

However, Glickman had to overcome several obstacles due to Anti-Semitism.  He and fellow Jewish sprinter, Sam Stoller, were knocked of the 400-meter relay team during Adolf Hitler’s Games in Berlin. While it never was stated, it is clear top U.S. officials didn’t want to offend the dictator with the possibility of Jews winning a gold medal.

Later when the NBA signed a national TV contract with NBC in the early 60s, a deal Glickman helped arrange, he was passed over to be the lead voice. Again, it seems likely that being Glickman being Jewish was a factor in the decision.

Yet the film shows that Glickman didn’t let Anti-Semitism suffocate him. Instead, he marched on.

“To me, the heart of the film is what happens to an 18-year-old when he faces racism?” Freedman said. “Not only did he not allow it to beat him, he used sports as a vehicle to transcend all the racism he faced.”


And there’s more in the entire post at NSJC.