Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Thrill of Jim McKay

When hearing of a prominent obituary, The Garlic often goes into satire mode (like here, for instance, or here).

However, hearing the news late yesterday, on the passing of sportscaster Jim McKay, brought about sadness.

McKay was likable enough, and certainly was in the right place at the right time, with ABC covering the 1972 Summer Olympics, McKay anchored the coverage of that terrible tradegy.

From The NYT;

His professionalism and sensitivity melded in 1972. During the Munich Olympics, as he left the hotel sauna and was about to go into the swimming pool on his only day off, he received word that Arab terrorists had invaded the Israeli living quarters in the Olympic Village. Mr. McKay hurried to the studio, and for 16 consecutive hours he anchored ABC’s extraordinary news coverage, with field reporting from Peter Jennings, Howard Cosell and others.

The episode ended with the killing of 11 Israeli athletes, coaches and trainers. When that word reached Mr. McKay, he said he thought that he would be the person who told the family of David Berger, an Israeli-born weight lifter whose family lived in Shaker Heights, Ohio, “if their son was alive or dead.”

He looked at the lens and said, “They’re all gone.”

What and where I remember McKay most from is the Saturday, 5PM show, ABC's Wide World of Sports.

Every week, McKay highlighted a sports event, anything from boxing, swimming, skating, skiing, auto racing or weightlifting, to more exotic offerings, such as curling or rodeo.

And what's the big deal of that?

Well, if you happen to grow up in the 1960's, that was one of the few sports shows on television.

Back, before the 24/7/365, zillion-channel world of cable, it was extremely slim pickings.

For basebell, you only had the Saturday, Game-of-the-week (and not until the late 60's, with advent of UHF channels, did we start getting a trickling of the home town team games, almost exclusively, road games, not home games).

Sundays brought the NFL doubleheader (and being stuck here in New England, we always got beamed the New York Football Giants' games) on CBS, while NBC picked up the fledgling AFL schedule.

Like I said, slim pickings.

And, above all else, I can thank Wide World of Sports for giving me the love-of-my-life for that period of time.

One reason for the religious viewing, especially in Fall and Winter, was to, hopefully, catch ice skater Janet Lynn.

Lynn, who won a Bronze in the 1972 Olympics was, perhaps, heir to be the darling of the ice skating world, left void by Laurance Owen, and the 1961 U.S. Figure Skating Team, who all perished in a plane crash.

It was a big-time crush for this young boy, who would have been happy if every Wide World of Sports program was with Janet Lynn.

So long Jim McKay ...

You gave us many more thrills, than agony ...

Bonus Links

Jim McKay, 86; pioneer sports broadcaster covered kidnapping at Munich Games

Legendary Sports Journalist, Father Of CBS News Pres., Jim McKay Dies

Jim McKay, `ABC Wide World of Sports' Host, Is Dead (Update2)

US sports' McKay dies, told world of Munich tragedy

Bonus Bonus

Thrill of victory

1972 Winter Olympics Janet Lynn

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