The voices that tell the stories of sports

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       The best description I ever heard used by Sportscasters was that used by ABC's Wide World of Sports, "The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat." My late friend and partner Stanley Ralph Ross penned the words while Jim McKay did the narration.

 This program was a wonderful example of putting words with pictures. From its inception in 1961 and for a great many years, the brilliant Jim McKay hosted the program. In 1998, he had the sad task of announcing its last broadcast. It ran for 37 years! Jim had many great moments. His words became immortalized by his non-stop coverage of the tragic Munich Olympics.

Let me relate to you some facts that have recently come to my attention. The American Sportscasters Hall of Fame came into being in 1984. Since then, there have been 23 inductees.

 I have been lucky, over the years to have worked with sixteen of these greats. Starting from childhood, I also idolized many of the others. They were my inspiration.  However, as a young announcer, I quickly learned they are one-of-a-kind and cannot be imitated.

Many are in the "Hall" because of their diversity in covering all Sports, a particular Sport, or as the voice of a singular team.

In 1959, prior to the "Hall of Fame" coming into being, a National Sportscaster of the Year Award was given to the person who was most perceived as outstanding by their peers. Lindsey Nelson of NBC received the first Award. In total, he received the honor 4 years in a row.

Other multiple winners have been Chris Schenkel (CBS), Vin Scully (LA Dodgers), Curt Gowdy (NBC), Ray Scott (CBS), Keith Jackson (ABC), Dick Enberg (NBC), Al Michaels (ABC), Bob Costas (NBC), Chris Berman (ESPN), Jim Nantz (CBS) and Joe Buck (FOX Sports).

These men have taken us on International trips through their dulcet tones in describing brilliant vistas and exciting moments.  Who can ever forget Al Michaels brilliant "Miracle on Ice" call as the Untied States Hockey Team, a huge underdog, emerged the Gold Medal Winner at the Lake Placid Olympics... or Vinny's call of Kirk Gibson's Home Run giving the Dodgers the World Series. I was a kid in college when Russ Hodges.

 called Bobby Thomson's Home Run allowing the then New York Giants to beat the Dodgers to win the pennant ... "the Giants have won the pennant".

Over many moments, for so many years, they have been giving us the gift of escape from the mundane. They always made it look easy and without effort. However, the great ones always prepared thoroughly to enhance their gift of gab.

 Chick Hearn considered by many the finest Basketball announcer of all time came always prepared, but his insecurity would drive me crazy. I can't how many times after each game he would ask anyone in ear shot, did he do well.

But here's the sad part, although the ASA memorializes the illustrious careers of those who gave us these thrilling rides, the Hall of fame is without a home. It was officially opened on February 26,1998 and located in the MCI National Sports Gallery in Washington, D. C. Unfortunately, it was closed in 2000 to make way for offices.

It is an orphan! Something should be done!

The interactive words of Pat Summerall, Keith Jackson, Harry Caray, Ray Scott, Howard Cosell, Marty Glickman, Jack Whitaker, Vin Scully, Clem McCarthy, Jim McKay, Chris Schenkel, Ernie Harwell, Lindsey Nelson, Chick Hearn, Jack Buck, Mel Allen, Jack Brickhouse and Curt Gowdy who have been the inductees since 1985, deserve to be preserved.  There are an ever-alive Sports Tapestry.

1984, the first year of inductions, saw Red Barber, who among other chores was  the voice of the Brooklyn Dodgers, (he was also Vin Scully's mentor)... plus Don Dunphy who broadcast all of Joe Louis' championship fights and was my teacher at Gillette. One of the thrills I had was to hire Don to call Muhammad Ali's last fight.

Bill Stern, the Colgate Shave Cream man, whom I listened to religiously every Friday night was truly my inspiration.  If only I could tell and weave stories like him. Today, these words are in an Archive somewhere with nobody to listen. These classic narrations fall on deaf ears.

It is a shame, but I have an idea! As a member of the Board of Advisors of the United States Sports Academy, I am turning to the brilliant Dr Tom Rosandich , a Sports Visionary, to come up with an answer.  If anyone can, I know he's the man.


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Shelly Saltman has been in the sports world as an executive, TV producer, broadcaster and event creator for more than 50 years. Among his credentials are his work with Muhammad Ali and Evel Knievel, the numerous network TV shows he produced and created, NBA/NHL management roles, co-creator of the Amgen Tour of California and as the first president of Fox Sports. He lives in Ventura County.