This coming NFL season will be my 24th consecutive year with Fox.
Before that, I worked at CBS for 23 years. During those many years with the two companies I also handled play-by-play for TNT covering NBA, TBS for baseball and of course four years with the Boston Red Sox.
Sprinkled in over 5 decades were several seasons doing local broadcasts for the Oakland A’s and San Antonio Spurs.
When I’m asked about the entire span of my career and what I’ve taken away from those great experiences it always comes down to those I worked alongside.
The experts. The analysts. The legends, of which there were many, and those who were not legends but simply terrific partners who I go to know. The memories of those I worked with, after years of admiration of their on-the-field achievements, I’ll always cherish.
This football season I will have a new partner. He is a talented ex-player turned broadcaster. Fox will release the lineup shortly and I look forward to yet another campaign.
I have to go back to 1982, my first year as a “regular” on CBS when they paired me with one of the fine gentlemen who ever played the game on the highest level, Roger Staubach. The former Cowboys quarterback hardly needed to work at games.
He was already vastly successful in his own commercial real estate business.
One Saturday afternoon between visits to the teams for interviews in preparation for our game the next day, we stopped at a famous hamburger restaurant for a break. Roger and I, along with our producer and director, were forced to sit in the kids section on those kiddie chairs. Staubach’s knees were higher than his head and it was at that moment when he declared he didn’t care to spend his weekends in this manner and said it would be his last season. Funny. Actually, he was the only partner I ever had who simply had enough and quit the business.
That includes some of the great icons of sports. I have been blessed to have worked and gotten to know the likes of Bill Russell, John Madden, Hank Stram, Troy Aikman, Dan Fouts, Billy Cunningham, Chuck Daly, Eric Heiden, Billy Kidd, John Lynch, Ronde Barber, and countless other greats of their sport. Some of whom I worked several seasons, others a few games.
Whenever Tim McCarver and I were doing games, we both sang show tunes while we were filling in our scoresheets with the day’s lineups.
All I remember in the one year I had Dan Dierdorf as a partner at CBS are the laughs we had leading up to the game. I don’t recall the games, but I do remember the fun.
The longest-running partners I’ve had were distinct for different reasons.
Matt Millen, my first partner and long-time booth-mate at Fox, could see what every player was doing on every play. He didn’t miss a thing. Intense film study was the reason why. Matt also had a frivolous side, often wearing ties depicting the Three Stooges, who he would imitate in the days leading up to, and even during telecasts.
Hawk Harrelson’s passion for playing golf almost every day nearly led him to a dream of making the pro tour.
Hubie Brown’s meticulous preparation when we arrived at the arena for a game was no different than when he coached. He broadcast the way he coached, leaving nothing to chance.
There wasn’t anything Jim Kaat didn’t know about baseball, especially pitching, of course, and I soaked up everything he said.
I worked four seasons with former Celtics star Tommy Heinsohn during those magical years when the Celtics and Lakers squared off in the NBA finals. Heinsohn’s philosophy of fast-break basketball, constantly pushing the ball upcourt was a mantra we would hear every game for all the years we worked. If a team failed to execute Tommy’s idea of how the game should be played, we would all hear about it. He was a marvelous expert-analyst.
I guess the passion for the game they played marked everyone of them. No surprise.
I will never forget when the speed skating crowd in the Viking Ship Arena in Hamar, Norway demanded Eric Heiden, my partner in the 1994 Olympics, skate around the oval to immense cheers. Heiden, one of the great people I’ve been fortunate to work alongside, was always more popular in Europe than in the United States.
Imagine spending a couple of days informally with the kind of sports figures I’ve worked with? Enjoying dinners, down-time, broadcasting the games themselves, hearing the knowledge and insight of those who excelled on the field has been a special experience.
The intelligence of Ron Darling, the relaxing ease of Wayne Walker, the no-nonsense style of Bob Brenly, the mischievous ways of Billy Packer, and the bubbly personality of Mike Eruzione have stuck with me indelibly.
In more recent years, I have enjoyed and relished serving as a mentor to many who have gone on to greater heights. The likes of Troy Aikman, Daryl Johnston, John Lynch, Ronde Barber, Charles Davis, Brady Quinn, Chris Webber, and Jeff Van Gundy to name a few. All of them had to have the talent and work ethic to succeed. I am simply grateful to have had the opportunity to get them started.
I intend to expand on many of those mentioned here on occasion as we move along with “Stockton Says.”
One final note: The River Classic Golf Tournament is slated for Saturday, September 16th, 2017. It’s truly a classic and the proceeds benefit River Hospital, so we know how important that is. For $75 per person, you can enter a 4-person crew headed by a captain. There are two divisions, Men’s and Mixed.
It will be held at The Thousand Island’s Country Club Lake Course.
The 18-hole affair will feature lunch, door prizes a 50/50 raffle and skins.
There are additional prizes for doing great things on the course.
To register online, visit www.riverhospital.org or call the River Hospital Development Department at 315-482-4976.
The shotgun start begins at 10:00 a.m.
What better way to spend a Saturday in September and aiding River Hospital?
It’s a win for you, and a win for the Hospital. I can’t think of a better cause.
Enjoy Dick’s FREE podcast, “Stockton!” where he shares a different perspective on the world of sports along with stories that he has collected from his unique front-row seat.
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