Monday, June 9, 2008

MY FRIEND - JIM McKAY

Over this past weekend, We lost Jim McKay, the only true host of "ABC's Wide World Of Sports." For most of you under 40, you didn't have a chance to appreciate what he brought to television. Jim had this wonderful touch with words and the world of sports. He could stand in the pits in Monaco, talk to the cowboys in Calgary, or call Bob Hayes World Record in St. Louis.
That's where I met Jim, in St. Louis. It was my first assignment on Wide World. I was to do the live interviews, with the winners, of the 1963 AAU Track and Field Championships.

That Saturday morning, I met Jim and the rest of the ABC crew in a production meeting in the motel coffee shop. Afterwards everyone left for the stadium, but Jim said, "You go ahead, Charlie and I will have another cup of coffee before we come out.

Jim McKay then spent the next two hours explaining the Wide World concept of sports. There was more emphasis on the personalities of sports and what made them tick. He also included me in the telecast, making me a true part of their broadcast crew. Then it was off to the stadium, where the temperature was 103 degrees.

Three hours before we were to go on the air, and without video-tape, (it hadn't been invented) Bob Hayes broke the world record in the semi-finals of the 100-yard dash in a time of 9.1 seconds.

After the cheering died down, Jim called me on his phone from the broadcast tower. He said, "Charlie, will you go tell Bob Hayes that he wasn't on television, as we don't go on the air, live, until 5:00 o'clock So, would you ask him if he would run a 9.1 world record, again in the finals." My response, "You've got to be kidding?" Jim's reply, and I believe he had his tongue placed firmly in his cheek, "No, I'm not kidding, let's see if he will do it." Okay. When you are young and eager, naturally you'll try.

All dressed up in my brand new navy, blue, "ABC Wide World of Sports" jacket, I found Bob Hayes. "Bob, congratulations on your new world record of 9.1 in the hundred. (pause) We don't go on air until 5:00 o'clock so we missed it. (pause) Would you do it again in the finals?" (This time Bob Hayes paused.)

He had a funny kind of smile on his face. Then his face changed. I could almost read his thoughts. If I was crazy enough to ask him, then he just might do it. "Yea." (another pause) "I'll do it." (smile) "I'll run another 9.1 in the finals."

He did. And I interviewed, live on-camera, courtesy of Jim McKay, the new 100-yard dash, World Champion, Bob Hayes.

Comments welcomed...Please click on the "Comment" link just below and let us know what you think - CJ.

4 comments:

-dan said...

we have a bad habit of not fully appreciating people until they are gone.

i cannot remember the last time i heard your voice on a call, how nice it would be to hear you call a chargers/raiders game one more time.

you will be missed.

-dan

Anonymous said...

Not only a distinctive voice, a distinctive whisper around the golf greens..the first one I remember....his voice = sports in the '60's....

Anonymous said...

I had the pleasure to call Charlie a friend...we met at NBC Sports in the early 80's and he was the consummate professional and the best friend you could ever have.

He always spoke so lovingly of his wife, Ann and his kids and grandkids. His family meant the world to him.

You are already missed Charlie and the broadcasting world will not be the same without you around.

Your friend...Glenn

Anonymous said...

Jim McKay, Tim Russert and Charlie all lost in the same week. Three true greats. Our airwaves are much the worse for it. RIP to all three great men.