Deck the Hall
First, the disclaimer: this is about baseball.
Now, the admonition: don't give up on this yet. After I tell you about it, if you still don't want to watch the video, fair enough. But this is mainly about Bob Costas, so give it a chance.
I love Bob Costas. He's not only a terrific baseball announcer, he's a terrific announcer for any sport he does. He has a sense of history and perspective, and brings to it whatever he's announcing. And he may be at his peak when he's the anchor of some sporting event, like the Olympics. He is an impeccable storyteller and has a sense of great decency, but is laser-like pointed when discussing difficult issues and in his interviewing. Indeed, he's had interview shows that have nothing to do with sports.
I crossed paths with him briefly, during my dark days of publicity, when I worked on the movie, BASEketball, in which he appeared, with a bunch of other sportscasters, though he was the main one. Before production, I had get to biographical information from him, so I called his office, which was at his home in St. Louis. As it happened, he answered the phone. His secretary was out, and he didn't get a replacement to fill in, he just handled what was needed. Well, as best he could -- he admitted being a total techno-luddite. We had a very enjoyable conversation, but when it came to faxing me his bio, he didn't have a clue how to do it, and he'd need to have his secretary do it when she got back. Keep in mind, this is a guy who has won 20 Emmy Awards! He lives in the world of technology and its pinnacle. And he didn't know how to fax. (Put paper in slot. Dial phone number. Tap send.)
We got to spend more time on the movie set, and it was a pleasure talking with him. Smart, personable and very approachable. He's also very religious, and said he wasn't sure he'd be okay with his young kids seeing the R-rated movie. But he willingly did any of the odd, occasionally raunchy things the filmmakers had him do. He didn't try to impose his views on anyone. The only request he made -- and it was a request -- was about a joke that would have a personal impact on one of his family members, and he wondered if the filmmakers could address it differently. They happily just took it out.
That brings us to now. Bob Costas finally was elected into the Broadcast Wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame, receiving the Ford C. Frick Award. Why it took him this long is beyond me, he should have gotten the honor a decade ago. But no matter. He was elected and he made no bones about being the greatest honor of all he's received -- which are a great many, including eight Sportscaster of the Year Awards.
The short version of my rant.
As you might imagine, I really wanted to see Costas’s induction speech but it got buried, and I missed it. (They held his induction the day before the player inductions this year -- I think they're usually at the same ceremony, but since there were six ballplayers elected this year, it was probably deemed too many for the same day.) And the MLB Network hasn’t repeated the broadcast. And (worse) the Baseball Hall of Fame website doesn’t have ANY of the speeches on their site. (Not just from this year, but any from the past, either. Which is an idiot decision, since it would drive traffic to their site). And I could find none of the speeches on YouTube.
I’ve searched online and nothing, but fortunately, I did find ONE place that has the audio of it. But then, much to my pleasure, the inveterate Chris Dunn -- he of many talents, several of them very usual, the remainder mostly intriguing -- actually tracked the video down.
You will also not be shocked to know – 1) being the impeccable storyteller I noted above that he is, it’s 33 minutes, 2) it’s absolutely tremendous, and 3) it’s seems like about 12 minutes. And being Costas, he mostly talks about other people.
While it's about baseball, it's as much about personalities, and about what is important in sport and life. If you don't like baseball, fine, I get it. But this is Bob Costas. The Hall of Fame. It's really wonderful.
[NOTE: This video seems to automatically repeat, and I can't find a way to pause it. But you can stop it by reloading the page, or if you want to stay on the page, at least hit the Mute button.]
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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