Jim McKay 1921-2008

Saturday, June 07, 2008


Longtime broadcaster Jim McKay passed away today at the old age of 86, and while you never want to have to write posts like this the Broadcasting Hall of Famer did live a long and productive life. McKay spent most of his years as host of ABC's Wide World of Sports, but is mainly remembered for his gripping coverage of the kidnapping and deaths of 11 Israeli athletes during the 1972 Munich Games. The coverage of that event was exhaustive and if you've ever seen any of the documentaries his quote of, "They're all gone" probably still rings in your ears.

Not only did McKay do a lot of great things around the World covering the Olympics and various Sports for ABC, he also was a huge help to the State of Maryland. He helped the Horse Racing community of the State and because my dad worked at many of the courses I had the chance to meet Jim on a couple of different occasions. He was always pleasant and even though it's a sad day for everyone in Sports his quiet death at least came from natural causes and took place at his home in Monkton, MD.

Here are some quotes from people in the industry about the man and his life....

"He had a remarkable career and a remarkable life, hardly a day goes by when someone doesn't come up to me and say how much they admired my father."- Sean McManus, McKay's son and the president of CBS News and Sports.

"There are no superlatives that can adequately honor Jim McKay. He meant so much to so many people. He was a founding father of sports television, one of the most respected commentators in the history of broadcasting and journalism."- George Bodenheimer, president of ESPN and ABC Sports.

"He was truly the most respected and admired sportscaster of his generation and defined how the stories of sports can and should be covered. While we all know what an absolute titan he was in his chosen field, I will always remember him as an extraordinary human being guided by a strong moral compass."- Dick Ebersol

"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."- Bob Costas

"His enthusiasm permeated every event he covered and thus always made it far more interesting. I always thought of him as a favorite teacher."- Al Michaels

Here are a couple other well stated pieces....

Sports Broadcast Titan Jim McKay Passes (Sox and Dawgs)
Legendary Sportscaster Jim McKay Dies at 86 (Fanhouse)

Posted by Awful Announcing- at 1:51 PM

8 Comments:

McKay was a true television icon, IMO. I grew up watching him on WWoS every Saturday, and was just beginning my junior year of college when the massacre at the Munich Olympics happened. I saw all of the coverage as it was unfolding, and McKay was; I hate to use what might be seen as a glib term, but he was almost magical in his reporting. Unlike many of today's news "reporters" and anchors, there was no attempt to be sensational or make any ill-conceived and inane statements concerning who might have been involved. It should be required viewing for all current and prospective TV talking heads. They might learn a lesson or three on how to be a professional.

Bruce said...
Jun 7, 2008, 3:05:00 PM  

I was a lowly gopher on a couple of occasions where McKay was assigned.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, commanded as much respect. He was a beacon of clarity as to how things ought/needed to be done. The usual alter-agendas that permeate most TV production went bye-bye when he asked for something to be handled a certain way. His instincts were spot-on, too.

Did you hear what Keith Jackson said? For KJ to speak for another as a wordsmith first, is for KJ to give the ultimate compliment. Trust me, KJ don't hand out many compliments.

Ed said...
Jun 7, 2008, 8:00:00 PM  

i'm not trying to turn this into a dead pool or anything, but now that mckay has passed and men like chris schenkel and curt gowdy have died in the past 2-3 years, is there anyone left from that era?

would guys like jackson and dick enberg be included in that list? am i missing anyone?

-dan

-dan said...
Jun 7, 2008, 8:37:00 PM  

Congratulations. Minus the sentence about your dad, you basically just paraphrased the AP story.

Anonymous said...
Jun 7, 2008, 8:52:00 PM  

Dan,
I believe Jack Whitaker and Jim Simpson are still with us. While not household names in the sense of McKay, they harken back to that same era of televised sports broadcasting.

McKay's passing, though from all accounts inevitable, still saddens this young broadcaster. And, we got the true sense of his loss by the coverage ABC put forth today. McKay always had a way of making the viewer aware of the human side of sports and the personal side of every possible angle. Meanwhile, ESPN produced the Big Brown Propaganda Machine. Da' Tara was a complete after thought.

RIP, Jim. Some of us young guys will always respect what you presented to us.

Jim Williams said...
Jun 7, 2008, 10:28:00 PM  

Jack Fleming went off this earth recently.

Man, I feel old and full of knowledge of mortality even more.

Jim McKay was a voice of my youth, I can hear his tenor now calling out the name of AJ Foyt to Sam Posey and Bobby Unser.

I'm bummed. Dwight White, and Jim.

RIP.

And to think that I read that tripe from berman earlier about how grrat we have to think he is.

fuck that fat drug addict.

H Wags said...
Jun 8, 2008, 12:40:00 AM  

Losing a true gentleman lik McKay and really thinking about his place in the history of sports broadcasting really makes me sad in two respects. One, we've lost a great link to the past and someone that some of us could talk to our dads about. And two, I just cringe to think where the world of sports coverage is going from here. I'm really afraid our storytellers are being replaced by story-yellers, and desk jockeys who want to coin the next "Boo Ya!" To quote s line from Ferris Bueller... "I weep for the future."

MikeT said...
Jun 8, 2008, 1:52:00 AM  

i grew up with jim mckay, curt gowdy and jack buck.

now, if i must, i have to tolerate chris berman, stuart scott and neil everett.

if anyone wants to suggest this country is crumbling, there's your evidence.

Anonymous said...
Jun 9, 2008, 8:32:00 AM  

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