Extra Points: Jonesing for Sports on TV
The toughest part of staying home is the lack of sports on TV to pass my time.
It's been a part of my life for basically my entire life. Every Sunday morning in the fall meant tuning into the one-hour replay of Notre Dame's football game from the previous day with dad, who played for The Fighting Irish in the early 1950s. Since I was usually an altar boy for Saturday evening or Sunday morning Mass at Our Lady Star of the Sea, that freed up the rest of the morning to listen to Lindsey Nelson and Paul Hornung recount the exploits of coach Ara Parseghian, wide receivers Jim Seymour and Tom Gatewood, defensive lineman Alan Page and a quarterback from South River named Joe Theismann, which was pronounced "Theesman" at the time.
On Saturday afternoons, I could look forward to experiencing the "Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat" with Jim McKay and the Wide World of Sports on Channel 6. I'd gawk at the sight of the Acapulco Cliff Divers leaping off tiny slabs of rock and hitting the water.
Summer afternoons would mean tuning into the NBC baseball Game of the Week with Curt Gowdy, Joe Garagiola and Tony Kubek. That's when I got hooked on baseball, watching Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Bob Gibson, Al Kaline and company. It wasn't long after that Channel 17 (Bill Campbell, By Saam, Richie Ashburn and later Harry Kalas) started broadcasting Phillies games while Channel 9 aired the Mets (Lindsey Nelson, Bob Murphy, Ralph Kiner) and Channel 11 showed the Yankees (Phil Rizzuto, Bill White, Whitey Ford, Frank Messer).
"Meet the Mets, meet the Mets.
Step right up and greet the Mets!
Bring the kiddies, bring your wife!
Guaranteed to have the time of your life!"
In the early 70s, there was the NHL Game of the Week. That meant watching Jean Ratelle and Brad Park with the Rangers; Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr of the Bruins; Buffalo's "French Connection Line" of Gil Perreault, Rick Martin and Rene Robert; Bobby Hull and Tony Esposito of the Blackhawks; Yvan Cournoyer, Guy Lafleur, and brothers Frank and Pete Mahovlich of the Canadiens; and an upstart team called the Flyers.
Every weekday winter night was spent watching college basketball, back in an era when the Big Five rivalries actually meant something. We loved following the exploits of Holy Spirit graduate Chris Ford at Villanova and Lower Cape May Regional grad Charlie Wise at La Salle, but were just as riveted when by Penn, St. Joseph and Temple games at the famed Palestra.
Watching the NFL usually meant seeing the Cowboys, since it seemed like coach Tom Landry, quarterbacks Don Meredith and Roger Staubach and the Doomsday Defense were on TV every week. But it also provided the opportunity to watch Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton and their Purple People Eater defense. And every team seemed to have a fire-breathing, snarling middle linebacker. Bears legend Dick Butkus was part of a group that also included Jack Ham (Steelers), Leroy Jordan (Cowboys), Willie Lanier (Chiefs), Mike Lucci (Lions), Ray Nitschke (Packers) and Tommy Nobis (Falcons).
Boxing was also a pretty big deal back in the day. Muhammad Ali frequently fought on TV with Howard Cosell providing entertaining interviews. Since pay per view didn't appear until the 1980s, Ali and other top sluggers such as Roberto Duran, George Foreman, Joe Frazier and Aaron Pryor regularly fought on network TV.
This would normally be the time when I could pass the time watching the Phillies, Sixers and Flyers on Comcast, other baseball games on ESPN, FS1 or the MLB Network during the week; the PGA Tour on the Golf Channel, ABC and or NBC, not to mention the XFL.
Instead, I'm stuck with episodes of "Property Brothers," "Diners, Driveins and Dives," "Classic Concentration" during the day, then "Big Bang Theory" reruns, "American Idol" and "The Voice" at night.
I've also taken to binge watching some shows on Netflix in between filling out Facebook lists such as listing bands I've seen in concert and golf courses I've played with every letter of the alphabet; states that I've visited and letting everyone know if I've ever ridden in an ambulance or gone bungee jumping.
Thank goodness for "Tiger King."