When I started my career as a sportscaster in 1982 I was hoping to make it a few years before I had to go and find a “real job.” Here we are 40 years later, and I still pinch myself. The fact that I have made it four decades in a sometimes ruthless and unforgiving business is nothing short of a blessing.
Perhaps even more amazing, in 40 years I have only worked for three broadcast entities: WJRT-TV in Flint Michigan, KXAS-TV here in Fort Worth and Fox Sports SW, which became Bally Sports SW. The places this career has taken me and the stories I could tell are varied and fun. But my assignment from the great Yale Youngblood this month was, “some of the funny things that have happened.” So here goes, one from each entity (Will they be funny? You be the judge).
The year was 1988, and I had been toiling in Flint, Michigan for four years. I loved working in my hometown. Still, after four years as the weekend sports anchor I was ready to move on. One day during the Saturday 6:00 news we welcomed a new female anchor named Lisa Tutman. It was her very first weekend show, and she was very nervous. She was also very good; I knew she had a bright future. This was back when the sports guys got so much time that we had a commercial in the middle. So in the first half of my sportscast I heard Lisa struggling to suppress a cough. When the commercial hit I told her, “Lisa, don’t worry about coughing during my show. We are human beings, if you cough or sneeze I will acknowledge it, say ‘God Bless You’ and move on.”
When the show resumed Lisa began to cough again and imagine my surprise when she vomited on the set between her and me. When I finished I said, “Lisa, I said it was OK to cough! I did not say anything about vomiting!”
She was, of course, embarrassed and determined she said, “I am going to finish this show.” I said, “Lisa, all that’s left is the kicker, I will read that and say good night don’t worry, I got this.” But she was steadfast about finishing; I said, “OK, then wipe off your chin cuz there is a little … you know what there.”
I have so many funny stories from my 11 years at NBC5, but my favorite may be the time then-Rangers President George W. Bush gave me a tour of the new stadium that would eventually become The Ballpark in Arlington. He took me everywhere with the cameras rolling as we explored all of the nooks and crannies of this wonderful new palace. Our last stop was Greene’s Hill out in straightaway center field. At the time there was no grass on the hill; it was all mud. I asked if I could do an on-camera close for the show while standing on the hill. The Rangers PR staff was so good they even provided hip waders so that I could walk into the mud, look at the camera, say something witty and charming and close the show.
It all went so well … until I tried to walk back up the hill, and my foot slipped out of the boot. As I reached to replace my foot in the boot, I missed, and my sock and dress pants were covered in mud. Soon the future President of the United States came to my aid and tried to free me from being stuck in the mud. My one true regret is that I cannot find the video of that incident in the NBC 5 archives. I know it is there somewhere.
Fast forward to 2007. I am at Fox Sports SW and covering the NBA finals between the Spurs and the Cleveland Cavaliers and bump into a guy that I once interned with in Detroit. I remembered his name was Dan, but I did not know how his career had gone since we last saw each other in 1982. I proudly start to tell him about all the things I have been doing: Spurs, Mavs, Rangers, Stars, Big 12.
He looks me straight in the eye and says, “When you beat me out for the part-time job at Channel 2 in Detroit, I realized that I was not cut out for TV.” He went on to say, “I realized that it was for big-personality guys like you. So I started a company called Rock Financial, then Quicken bought us, then we turned around and bought Quicken, then I bought the Cavaliers, and now I sign LeBron James’ paycheck.”
I wish you could have seen my face as he said all of this. I turned ghostly white and almost passed out. Dan the Intern was Dan Gilbert, the new owner of the Cavaliers. You might think that is a sad story more than funny, but here comes the funny: When I told my wife that whole story she deadpanned, “Darn, it looks like I married the wrong intern.”
So, there you go, one story from each entity. There are so many more where these came from. If you ever see me out and about just ask me – I love telling these stories.