Yes, I’m back with a new computer and a few new bells & whistles. Very happy that I can blog again on the weekends. But I’m also sad as well.
Today marks the passing of sports broadcasting pioneer Jim McKay. To me, he defined the host of Olympic broadcasts. He also educated us on Olympic sports, and some of the not-so-mainstream sports. He called the Indianapolis 500, the British Open, the US Open, the PGA Championship, hosted Wide World of Sports and so many programs for ABC Sports. It was hard not to think of a major event for ABC that he couldn’t cover. Jim died today in his native Baltimore at the age of 86.
As ABC Sports evolved in the 1980′s, the network began to broadcast horse racing and McKay was naturally tapped to the be co-host of the telecasts along with Al Michaels. It began Jim’s love affair with the sport and he could not have been happier to host the Preakness Stakes in his native Baltimore.
His signature moment was during the 1972 Olympics in Munich when he was the anchor of ABC Sports coverage of the Israeli athletes hostage situation when he stayed on the air for 16 straight hours. What people didn’t know was that Jim was not the actual primetime host for ABC’s coverage, Chris Schenkel was, but ABC Sports Executive Producer Roone Arledge felt McKay would be better suited to anchor the coverage and when the 11 athletes were killed, Jim said it straightforwardly, “They’re all gone.”
During that Olympics, McKay covered both track & field and gymnastics and this was one of his greatest calls as Dave Wottle of the United States came from last place to win the gold medal in the 800 meters. Marty Ligouri was there to provide color analysis.
Tomorrow, I’ll have some more videos featuring Jim McKay for the Videos of the Week entry, but for now, I do have some tributes from his ABC Sports colleagues including Keith Jackson who was interviewed on ESPN this morning.
Former ABC Sports producer Don Ohlmeyer reflects on McKay’s career:
And Brent Musberger also remembers Jim:
One of the best HBO documentaries was Jim McKay:My World in My Words. There was really only one person who could tell the Jim McKay story and that was Jim himself. He wrote and narrated the 2003 documentary and told his story in the way that only he could.
When you think of how sports broadcasting has been defined, there are several men who have to be mentioned. Roone Arledge, Howard Cosell, Keith Jackson, Brent Musberger, Dick Ebersol, Marty Glickman, Ray Scott, Foster Hewitt, Red Barber, Vin Scully, Mel Allen and Jim McKay all helped to pave the way for the sports broadcasters of today. Today, as Big Brown attempts to become the first horse since Seattle Slew to win horse racing’s Triple Crown, one cannot help but to think about Jim McKay’s legacy to broadcasting and to horse racing.
As mentioned, tomorrow’s Video of the Week segment will be dedicated to Jim McKay.