THE KEY TO A LONG SPORTS LIFE
When my young friend, Jerry, (he looks old, but he’s a lot younger than he looks) asked my opinion on career advice, I told him that if he’s looking to live a long time he picked the right career. You see, Jerry wants to be an announcer and has actually already started doing so. We, at Silliman on Sports, if we get a chance to pass on good advice will do it. Just like we told Jerry, if you want to live a long time, pick a career that lets you do so. Announcing is such a career. It could be sports, it could be radio, it could be TV but, look it up, for some reason announcers live forever.
Don Pardo died recently at age 96, well respected, calming voice and was announcing on Saturday Night Live last year! At first, Jerry didn’t believe me. But there it was. Pardo was with NBC for sixty years then stayed on another eight years after his official network retirement doing SNL. That’s a lot of “It’s Saturday Night!”
Ed McMahon lived to be 86. He had no business living that long; too much booze, too many wives, too many people mad at him because they never got a check from Publishers Clearing House. Despite all those problems Ed stayed upright, we say, because he was an announcer.
Harry Caray lived to be 83. 83? Holy Cow, that included 53 years of broadcasting baseball. I ask Jerry, what is easier than announcing baseball? You sing during the 7th inning stretch, you get hyper excited whenever something super exciting happens, which is… y’know, not often. It’s baseball. Then you nap.
Vin Scully is still doing it at 86, 65 seasons with the Dodgers. When Vin Scully started Pee Wee Reese was still playing Pee Wee League Baseball, Sandy Koufax hadn’t yet been bar-mitzvah and the Chavez Ravine was just a rut. Vin also did his share of NFL announcing. See, I tell Jerry, it doesn’t matter the sport, unless they’re in an accident, these guys live a long time.
Mel Allen, voice of the Yankees, died at 83. Curt Gowdy died at 87. Curt was so good at announcing few remember he was the leading high school scorer and best tennis player in the state of Wyoming. He was also a starter on the University of Wyoming basketball team.
So maybe you think it’s more stressful in basketball. Surely these basketball announcing guys, many of them former players and coaches, can’t be still doing their jobs as long and be living as long as baseball announcers. Again, compared to most 8-to-5 jobs with commutes, it’s an easier gig. Dr. Jack Ramsay, a longtime coach and announcer died this year at the age of 89. He was announcing last year. Hubie Brown, at age 80, is still announcing NBA for ABC and ESPN. Marv Albert, who has wigs older than most NBA players is still announcing, at age 73. He’ll still be going at it for years until one day, he will be in the booth wearing a teddy and some security guard will stick his head in and ask Marv if it’s time for him to go and Marv will say “Yesss!!!”
More proof, Jerry? Dick Vitale at 75 is still going. Is that “Awesome, Baby”? Dick Enberg, 79, hasn’t retired. Neither has Verne Lundquist, 73, nor Bill Rafferty, 70, nor Lee Corso, 78, nor Brent Musburger at 75. And yes, Jerry, some of these guys do retire but that doesn’t keep them from having more birthdays. Keith Jackson, still alive at 85, Jack Whitaker just turned 90. If I were in the birthday candle business I’d have all my sales people target announcers. And I bet they’d have enough breath to blow them all out.