View Full Version : Legendary Sportscaster Jim Mckay Dies

06-10-2008, 07:06 PM
I just realized that this had gone unmentioned on PD.

Some of you might not be familiar with the work of Jim McKay but those a little older will certainly remember him. For years he called the Indy 500 for ABC (with Jackie Stewart).

During the '72 Munich Olympics McKay anchored the desk during the hostage situation and brought a steady but compassionate voice to what ultimately turned out to be a terrible tragedy.

McKay covered a multitude of sports during his long career of broadcasting. These days so many of the broadcasters specialize in one sport or style of sport. The Emmy winning McKay covered them all. He was the longtime host of ABC's Wide World of Sports and coined the famous tagline "The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat".

Here is a link to a list of firsts and achievements for McKay:

RIP Jim McKay.


06-10-2008, 07:09 PM

Jim McKay 1921 ~ 2008
Legendary sportscaster Jim McKay dies

By Ed Sherman | Tribune reporter
June 8, 2008

Jim McKay never called a World Series or a Super Bowl.

Yet he was perhaps the most respected and admired broadcaster, if not the most important, during the first 50 years of sports on television.

With an understated grace and eloquence, McKay brought the world of sports, "The Wide World of Sports" to be precise, to viewers who had been primarily weaned on baseball and football. He was the first to tell the personal story of athletes, piquing our interest in the cliff diver in Mexico or the race car driver from England.

And when the sporting world experienced its most horrific moment, the 1972 Israeli massacre at the Munich Olympics, it was McKay who guided us through the ordeal with impeccable clarity and restraint.

Tributes poured in Saturday following the news that McKay had died of natural causes at his home in Monkton, Md. He was 86.

The industry remembered the ABC announcer whose vast résumé included serving as host of "Wide World of Sports" for more than 40 years and as the longtime anchor for the Indianapolis 500. He also covered 12 Olympics and numerous U.S. and British Opens in golf.

Horse racing was his passion. He was the host for many Triple Crown events, he owned and bred horses, and he was honored Saturday before the running of the Belmont Stakes.

McKay inspired many of today's top sportscasters. Among them was NBC's Bob Costas, who captured the essence of McKay's talent and impact.

"Jim McKay was a singular broadcaster," Costas said. "He brought a reporter's eye, a literate touch and, above all, a personal humanity to every assignment. He had a combination of qualities seldom seen in the history of the medium, not just sports."

McKay began his career as a newspaper reporter and spent a short time at CBS. But a young broadcast executive, Roone Arledge, convinced McKay to join ABC. In 1961 Arledge tabbed McKay as host for a sports anthology series that literally sent him around the world.

McKay traveled an estimated 41/2 million miles in his career, covering more than 100 sports for "Wide World," with no event considered too trivial. In the era before 24-hour sports, viewers loved seeing competition of any kind on Saturday afternoons. Ultimately, "Wide World" was the precursor to ESPN.

It was McKay who uttered the famous line that defined the show, "Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sports. The thrill of victory and (cue the unfortunate ski jumper) the agony of defeat."

McKay then was able to capture that thrill and agony. Longtime ABC colleague Al Michaels, now with NBC, offered a fond recollection.

"I always thought of him as a favorite teacher," Michaels said. "He was so into whatever it was he was doing, he drew you into every event he covered."

In his autobiography, "The Real McKay," he wrote:

"I have tried to make my job not just the description of what's happening at the moment, but a search for excellence and an exploration of the human character in action. When I've found examples of excellence, I tried to point them out to the audience and convince viewers, especially young people, that excellence is attainable in their own lives."

Yet McKay's most memorable moment occurred when mankind was at its worst.

After Palestinian terrorists took Israeli athletes hostage during the 1972 Olympic Games, Arledge tabbed McKay, not the outspoken and controversial Howard Cosell, to anchor ABC's coverage.

During the uncertainty of that long, grim day, McKay's understated approach captured the tense mood. Finally, when he learned of the tragic news that all the Israeli athletes had been killed, he said tersely, "They're all gone." Nothing more needed to be said.

McKay won the news and sports Emmy Awards for his work. Walter Cronkite was among those who saluted McKay's performance.

That day earned McKay lifelong respect among viewers. His son, Sean McManus, went on to become president of CBS Sports. Yet he always hears about that other guy from ABC.

"Hardly a day goes by when someone doesn't come up to me and say how much they admired my father," McManus said.

In his book, McKay wrote about the two basics he held most dear.

"First, to speak to only one person when I look into the lens, because people watch TV as individuals, not as a crowd in a stadium. Second, never to lie to that individual, because his or her belief is the most valuable credential I can own."

Those basics took Jim McKay, and us, around the world of sports.

06-11-2008, 08:51 AM
I'd rather watch Jim McKay than most people that are on TV now.

06-11-2008, 06:43 PM
Of course I grew up watching Wide World of SPorts and the Olympics.

He's the kind of guy when you see him it brings back memories of the past.

He was a solid professional and a mainstay in the sporting world for decades in my youth.

I have to tell you. It irritated the hell out of me the way Wide World of Sports would string you through sport after sport you didn't want to watch to get to something you did. Because we didn't have a schedule and didn't have any choices.

But that was then. They had all the power.

Jim had a great run. He got us through the relative dark ages of tv.

To Jim McKay.