2021 Sportscaster of the Year- Marv Albert
Marv Albert is a portrait of success. He’s our 2021 Broadcaster of the Year! Congratulations. Marv retired after a roughly sixty year career.
As a young teen he set his sights on broadcasting sports. There was no stopping him. He drove those desires hard, right to the very top.
I’ve known Marv for over fifty years. I was a high school student when he was at WHN Radio and I would occasionally call him there. He was then in the process of evolving from a docile and innocent looking Marvin Aufrichtig to a star-studded and bold Marv Albert. He was as focused as they come, careful to stick to the ingredients that led to his ascendency; determination, commitment, hard work, reading, thorough preparation, proper enunciation, inflecting his timbre accordingly, perfecting his staccato and being ready to take sharp turns on broadcasts when the action required them.
There weren’t many doors to bang down in the 1950s. AM stations and that was about it. Not lots of opportunities. As for the Knicks, the team couldn’t give the store away. The Knicks and the NBA turned ten in 1956. By then Marv already had a seat, as a ball-boy on the Knicks bench.
Albert is the son of a Brighton Beach grocer, a warm man named Max who had Marv pay his dues in the family store. Indeed, he had to stock food and stamp prices on the canned goods.
When he did what he loved, fooling with the mic at the old Madison Square Garden, he cultivated student-teacher relationships with two of the most popular and talented announcers in the big city, Marty Glickman and Les Keiter. To this day, he talks of admiring both, calling each one role models.
From there, a little luck came his way. The Knicks got good, Madison Square Garden moved to new quarters above Penn Station and basketball was back on a station for which Marv did some work. Blacked-out telecasts turned into Marv’s goldmine. He painted the games rivetingly on radio, the way idols Keiter and Glickman did in preceding seasons.
And Marv held New Yorkers’ hands through two NBA championships, 1970 and 1973. TV was next, NBC, the NFL, boxing, the Stanley Cup and Voice of the NBA followed.
He retired at the end of last season, but not before a classic and classy line last July. Marv, at 80, closed out his career memorably and with humility
“I wish I could start all over again.”
YEAR-END SUMMARY AND OBSERVATIONS
BROADCASTER OF THE YEAR: MARV ALBERT – ALMOST 60 YEARS ON-AIR
NFL Rookie of Year (first full year) Greg Olsen
Best sideliner – Tracy Wolfson
Promising young broadcasters Adam Amin (Bulls, Fox); Noah Eagle (CBS, Clippers); Kevin Brown (Orioles, ESPN);
Young and overrated Joe Davis (Dodgers, Fox); Ryan Ruocco (NBA, ESPN)
Growing nicely on me – Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy
Has showed little among women Lisa Byington (Milwaukee Bucks)
Has been impressive among women Katie Scott (Philadelphia 76ers)
Mixed year Kenny Albert – Deservedly promoted to #1 for Turner’s newly acquired NHL telecasts but dropped a notch on the NFL Fox depth chart
Changing Lanes for a little ride Joe Buck auditioned/tried out for Jeopardy! after the death of Alex Trebek. I asked him how he would do as a contestant. “I would fare poorly. The clues get more difficult as they go down the categories. Maybe, three down at best. I could surprise myself and the rest of the world by getting somewhat further down the columns. But for the most part I would say three down is about as far as I can go if I’m being totally honest.”
Retiring Mike Shannon, Cardinals; Pat Foley, Chicago Blackhawks; Marc Zumoff, 76ers; Jaime Jarrin, Dodgers Hispanic and Rick Jeanneret of the Buffalo Sabres.
Back again and Strong again– Hubie Brown – The man is indestructible. Still sharp as a tack on ESPN.
Pat Summerall Looking in the rearview mirror, he was boring. Come to think of it, he put me to sleep, and many teams. He couldn’t have gotten away with his minimalist delivery, had Madden not been at his side.
Dan Shulman comes out of the Jim Simpson, Tim Ryan and Tom Hammond school of being able to do anything and doing it well. He only does baseball now in his native Canada (Blue Jays). Continues nicely in covering the sport created by fellow Canadian Dr. James Naismith
John Sterling Urged and encouraged to cut back, the often criticized Yankees’ radio announcer insists that he wants to do every game. Sterling turns 84 on July 4th. Some laugh and others get angry. But John is serious. He is who he is. He likes the limelight.
Bob Costas – Missed but thankfully accessible We were spoiled with regular doses of him for decades. Now at least, it’s catch him when you can on CNN, MLB Network or Turner’s pre/post baseball programs.
The heavy-handed and oppressive are still in somewhat of command. Thom Brennaman, Dave Lamont and a few others deserve reinstatement. I guess we live a draconian state.
Stamp them Mark Schlereth doesn’t deserve a seat on network TV and James Lofton should get a better one.
Annoying John Smoltz, Mr. Ten-Seamer or Mr. Soporific. Maybe both? He ain’t my cup of tea.
NY Jets Radio Help! Marty Lyons doesn’t deserve a seat in a radio booth. He’s good at regurgitating. Whatever his excellent partner Bob Wischusen says, he repeats and generally ends his inane insert with down and distance. I got so sick listening to him on a recent NY trip that it reminded me of Steve Snapper Jones who ended most of his comments with, “5 on the shot clock!” In other words, he never finished his original thought, so exited with a cheapo – like time remaining to shoot. What a joke that was.
The Bucks – Dave Koehn is the club’s new radio announcer. He did Virginia football and basketball. Has the pacing down smoothly. On TV, the team showed that it’s progressive. Lisa Byington became the first woman hired to do NBA play-by-play. Nice. It made headlines. But the quality of work? Let’s not go there please.
Turn of the calendar The New Year means we’re all getting older. The calendar moves inexorably. Active and still vibrant include these robust characters, 80 or older, Musburger Vitale, Brown, Corso, Kaat, McCoy and Uecker. Other broadcast Geritol qualifiers have lost their fast ball, curve and one of Smoltz’ ten-seamers.
John Forslund What a nutty business, he proves himself on NBC, but the NHL newbies on ESPN or Turner? Nothing doing. The phone rang but no answer, He’s with neither. He demonstrated how good he is when he became #2 on NBC after Mike Emrick retired. He got the gig in Seattle as the new team’s TV man.
The Big Ten radio voices are excellent, one better than the next. The two weakest whom I heard are Jim Brandstatter of Michigan and George Blaha of Michigan State. Special shout-outs to Don Fischer at Indiana, Gary Dolphin at Iowa, Paul Keels at Ohio State, Matt Lepay at Wisconsin and Brian Barnhart on Illinois. These cats should write a syllabus and add it to their schools’ curriculum.
Forgettable 2021– Be nice to our friends at NBC. I’m not sure that your cohorts in Bristol have good memories of you, Maria.
Forgiveness – Come on! Who will the first to bring back Thom Brennaman, Dave Lamont or Grant Napear?
2021 Deaths of broadcasters
Larry Clisby 2/21 (74) Purdue – Decades-long basketball announcer
Irv Cross 2/21 (81) CBS, The NFL Today – The quiet guy on the NFL set
Jeff Dickerson 12/21 (44) ESPN/Bears – ESPN builds visibility. Way too young
Ray Fosse 10/21 (74) Oakland A’s – Famous for his collision with Pete Rose – 1970 ASG
Pedro Gomez 2/21 (58) ESPN – Had a big smile and a big heart
Mudcat Grant 6/21 (85) Various – pitched for Twins, later kept busy broadcasting and doing PR.
Sam Huff 10/21 (87) Giants/WFT – One tough guy, started broadcasting with Marty Glickman
Tunch Ilkn 9/21 (63) Steelers – partnered for years with Bill Hillgrove
Larry King 1/21 (87) Dolphins – pre an post – while placing a bet here or there
Slick Leonard 4/21 (88) Pacers – He and partner Mark Boyle made for a great tandem
Les Levine, 2/21 (74) Cleve State – ‘Voice of truth and reason’
John Madden 12/21 (85) Four NFL Networks, Only Tim McCarver did it too (with Al Michaels)
Tom Matte 11/21 (82) CBS, Ravens – Yes, he did some network TV too
Jerry Remy 10/21 (68) Red Sox – Beloved in Beantown
Don Sutton (1/21) (75) Braves -Started with Dodgers – also worked for Nats
Joe Tait 3/21 (83) Cavaliers – Eloquent, teacher and orchestra leader. The best!
Would have turned 100 in 2021
Al Ciraldo– Georgia Tech
Monty Hall- Best known for Let’s Make a Deal (NY Rangers)
Gordon McLendon – Liberty Network – MLB recreations
John MacLean – Senators – influenced Marty Brennaman
Jim McKay- “They’re gone” or “The thrill of victory and The agony of defeat,” (left)
Frank Simms – Early Padres radio broadcaster
Chuck Thompson “Ain’t the beer cold!”
Jim Zabel – Iconic Iowa Hawkeyes radio voice
75 Years Recognition – 1946
Ted Husing The great pioneer does his last Orange Bowl.
Future broadcasters born: Al Albert, Mike Emrick, Don Fischer, Neil Funk, Greg Gumbel, Jim Hill, Jerry Howarth, Tommy Hutton, Woody Paige and Suzyn Waldman
Future executives born: David Hill (Fox), Al Jaffe (ESPN) and Kevin O’Malley (CBS and Turner)
50 Years Recognition – 1971
Bill White – Fifty years ago he became the first Black to join a pro team as a day-to-day broadcaster.
25 Years Recognition – 1996
Jack Buck and Hank Stram on CBS Radio did their last Super Bowl together. Play-by-players who followed are Howard David, Marv Albert and Kevin Harlan who now holds the record. He’ll do his 12th straight S/B this February.