In the third in its Sounds of Baseball series, MLB Network ran an hour long feature on Bob Uecker, whose career as an MLB catcher was less than spectacular. He might have been a lifetime .200 hitter at the plate, yet at the microphone for half a century, he’s Ted Williams. The man is funny, informative, descriptive and as enthusiastic as can be.
The special, hosted effortlessly by Bob Costas and Tom Verducci, captured the ex-catcher’s deadpan humor, his big on-air calls and his interaction with network television partners Al Michaels, Howard Cosell, Keith Jackson and Costas himself. There were snippets of his appearances with Johnny Carson of which there were many and Bob’s Hall of Fame speech accepting the Ford Frick Award. Costas and Verducci pointed out Uecker’s gift for immaculate timing, both as a comedian and as a broadcaster.
Bob is 86. In 1970, Bud Selig, the Brewers owner, hired him as a scout. His player profiles were submitted on sheets of paper sullied with food and coffee stains. His scouting grades for those he profiled were less than spectacular because if he projected stardom too often, he’d be wrong a lot and out of a job. Selig got the picture. Uecker was no scout, yet Bud felt he would make a great broadcaster and he was right. The next year, in 1971, Bob joined Merle Harmon in the Milwaukee booth and the rest is history.
When Cosell used the word truculent on an ABC broadcast, he asked Uecker if he knew what it meant. Without hesitating, Bob said, “Sure, Howard. If you had a truck that I borrowed and then returned it, that’s truculent.”
ESPN has confirmed that Hubie Brown, 86, will “be part of our overall cross platform NBA coverage – TV/Radio – in some role.” The network couldn’t confirm yet whether Hubie will be in Orlando at the site of the games. TNT’s Marv Albert, 79, will not be part of the broadcasts when the reinstated season resumes at the end of the month.
One older baseball voice told me this week that he plans to call both home and road games from the comfort of his living room watching it on TV. He won’t risk going to the ballpark and catching the virus.
Kudos to Clay Travis (l) for speaking up on Fox News last night with Laura Ingraham. Agree with Clay or not, isn’t the point. The last time I looked, we live in America, a country that affords its citizenry freedom of speech. Too many on the right are now afraid to speak and are overly guarded, fearing the ‘cancel culture’ or loss of their jobs. Clay took a shot at the NBA for giving players the option to remove their names from their jerseys and use the space for social justice messages. Travis is an alum of Vanderbilt’s law school.
Travis was with Fox Radio. He’s now with @Outkick and heard on SiriusXM’s Channel 83 in the mornings, 6- 8:30 AM ET.
No matter where you sit politically, play-by-play voices sit in the nosebleeds. It’s hard enough to identify players. Now, no names?
Kevin Calabro / Portland Trailblazers
Kevin Calabro is leaving the Blazers. It surprised many because the deep voiced former Seatlle Supersonics announcer quickly became popular in Rip City. Calabro won’t be calling the Blazers local telecasts when the season picks up again at the end of the month.
Trail Blazers Television Studio Host Jordan Kent will assume the role of play-by-play broadcaster for the remainder of the 2019-20 season. Kent’s the son of former Oregon and Washington State coach Ernie Kent.
Calabro tells me, “Our family is great, I am (feeling) great, just wanted to keep it that way. I loved working for the Blazers and they loved my work. They exercised the (renewal) option May 7th for my fifth year. But the more I thought about it and kept an eye on the science I just couldn’t justify exposing myself to potential problems. So I made a decision that may seem odd to those on the outside. It will be difficult but at the right time I’m sure I’ll be working again.” In the past, Calabro has also done basketball for ESPN TV and Radio and Westwood One. He’ll be back.
Sad note from St. Petersburg, Florida
John Glickman, 74, passed. He was the oldest son of broadcast icon Marty Glickman who died in January 2001. John is survived by his wife, the former Esther Garbelotto, two children, three grandchildren and all his three siblings, Elizabeth, David and Nancy.
Marty spent many of his final winters in St. Pete with John and his family and would marvel over the sunsets over the Gulf.
John was a pilot who flew missions in Vietnam. He died of a rare cancer that attacks the liver, Cholangiocarcinoma. It’s attributed to Agent Orange which has afflicted Vietnam vets. Cholangiocarcinoma has a 40-year incubation period. Our condolences to the Glickman family.
From 1964 through 1972, New York had fabulous play-by-play radio voices on the Giants and Jets. Glickman on the Jints and Merle Harmon on the latter. May they rest in peace. For a couple of those seasons, the famed columnist Dick Young did color on the Jets broadcasts and Howard Cosell did the pre-game show. Young despised Cosell and referenced him as “Howie the Shill” in his Daily News columns. Cosell had little love for Young. So when Cosell concluded the Jets pre-game show in those years, he’d say, “Stay tuned for the Jets game with Merle Harmon,” purposely omitting Young’s name. Never a dull moment with those two around.
None of Marty’s kids pursued broadcasting as a career, neither did any of Vin Scully‘s.
Made for radio
ESPN announced this week that Mike Greenberg will be back on radio with his own show weekdays, 12 Noon – 2pm ET. Mike will retain his duties on the ESPN mid-morning TV program, “Get Up.” Dan Le Baratd‘s show with Stugotz (AKA ‘Chuckles’) is being cut to two hours, from 10 AM – 2 PM ET. Golic and Wingo are out as the radio morning team. On August 17th, ESPN Radio will launch a new morning program from 6 AM to 10 AM ET. It will be dubbed Keyshawn, Jay and Zubin. It will be hosted by ex-NFLer Keyshawn Johnson, basketball analyst Jay Williams and SportsCenter host Zubin Mehenti.
Don’t overtalk on TV or leave yourself vulnerable to criticism.
Vin Scully has often told us that when he did early World Series broadcasts on NBC in the 1950s, he was told in no uncertain times by producers that TV isn’t radio and not to talk excessively. Vin likely felt stifled, Thus, Scully and others sounded more like Public Address announcers on television in those days.
Found this about the late Van Patrick, longtime Voice of Notre Dame and the Detroit Lions. In December, 1957, Van worked the Lions 59-24 rout over the Cleveland Browns for the NFL title on NBC.
Sports Illustrated was watching and offered this scathing review:
“Certainly millions of professional football fans came away from the TV broadcast of the Detroit-Cleveland game two weeks ago in a mood to cuff children, because an announcer named Van Patrick doggedly persisted—in hallowed radio fashion—in telling them in detail, and without surcease, what they could already see for themselves on their own screens.”
Lindsey Nelson from his book, “Hello everybody, I’m Lindsey Nelson.”
Nelson did a lot of the NBA package on NBC in the 1950s and early ’60s. Game operations weren’t quite sophisticated then. When TV needed a timeout, Commissioner Maurice Podoloff took care of it. Lindsey:
“He (Podoloff) was traveling to all the televised games to be sure that everything went well. He knew that the future of the sport lay in its success on the tube. And when television needed a time-out, the stage manager would tell Podoloff. He would then walk briskly around behind the bench, tap one coach on the shoulder, and say, ‘Call time out.’ That’s how time-outs were handled.”