By Lloyd Carroll
Astoria native and longtime NBC Sports signature air personality Bob Costas has won countless Emmy Awards and has long been a favorite of viewers because of his erudite manner that is never condescending.
Although he has been part of NBC’s coverage of such marquee events as the Olympics, NBA Finals, Stanley Cup Final, Triple Crown horse racing, and the Super Bowl, Costas has never hid the fact that his first love has always been Major League Baseball. In recent years Costas, who still looks amazingly boyish despite turning 65 this year, has cut back his workload at NBC but he is not slowing down as he can frequently be seen on the MLB Network.
Bob Costas achieved his ultimate dream as it was announced last week that he is the recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award which means that he will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame next July for his well-respected broadcasting career.
What is unusual is that most past recipients of the Frick Award have been longtime broadcasters for a particular team a la Vin Scully and the Dodgers. The only team for which Bob ever served as the home broadcaster was the Spirits of St. Louis of the defunct American Basketball Association in the mid-1970s.
When Bob Costas was anchoring major events for NBC Sports, his producer for a good chunk of them was Flushing native and Queens College alum Michael Weisman. It was Weisman who was at the helm for the 1986 World Series when the Mets won the 1986 World Series in a thrilling seven games.
Michael Weisman was inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame last Tuesday night. It was an overdue honor for a man who has been part of TV sports for over 50 years.
Mike has not been afraid to venture out of his sports comfort zone as he produced Pat Sajak’s 1989 late night talk show; Jane Pauley’s syndicated daytime talk show, and he had a year tour of duty producing MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” He deserves an Emmy Award for lifetime achievement.
Bill Raftery, the beloved CBS and ESPN college sports analyst, was also inducted into the 2017 Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame. Bill’s longtime play-by-play sidekick, Forest Hills High alum Ian Eagle, couldn’t be present at the ceremony but he broke up the audience with some behind-the-scenes stories about Bill in a video tribute. For years the best part of watching a New Jersey Nets game was enjoying the unpredictable patter between Ian and Bill.
Other inductees were Lesley Visser, who was one of the first female sports air personalities in what was, and still is, primarily a male-dominated field; and signature ESPN personality Chris Berman, who is best-known for the clever nicknames that he bestowed upon athletes.