If you are a 35-plus year old male like myself, you have lost one of your sports announcing icons. Jim McKay the “Voice” of ABC’s Wide World of Sports passed away at age 86 Saturday. Reports say McKay died of natural causes. Yes all of you football die hards I know he’s not a “football guy”, but I remember many Saturday “afternoons running in from playing just to hear ” Spanning the globe…”
You can’t help but remember seeing a Slovakian ski jumper named Vinko Bogataj, that came crashing down helplessly as you hear McKay announce; ” The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat”. You may also remember the outstanding work that McKay did during the 1972 Olympics in Munich. Though I am to young to remember that event, all you read is how Jim McKay handled that situation as he handled any other, with dignity and grace.
Another well known quote is when he came on the air during those Olympics and said “When I was a kid my father used to say our greatest hopes and our worst fears are seldom realized. Our worst fears have been realized tonight. They have now said there were eleven hostages; two were killed in their rooms yesterday morning, nine were killed at the airport tonight. They’re all gone.”
Born Jim McManus in Philadelphia on September 24, 1921, he was also a graduate of Loyola College then entered the United States Navy. McKay also was a minority owner of the Baltimore Orioles.
Jim Mckay was the first sportscaster to win an Emmy Award.
McKay said in an old interview his most memorable event was in 1980 he was in the studio, when the U.S. Men’s Hockey team defeated the Soviet Union. He was once quoted as saying “I don’t know what else would match that.”
Jim McKay’s love of covering sports took him from the Olympics to the Indianapolis 500 to the Kentucky Derby and the British Open. When all was said and done he covered 12 Olympic Games in his career. ABC who McKay worked 40 plus years for estimated that he traveled 4 and half million miles covering events in his career.
Many people from the world of sports came out today with nothing but kind words and respect for McKay today including Al Michaels, Bob Costas, Dick Ebersol and ABC/ESPN’s Mike Tirico.
The Comander in Chief George Bush also made a statement not only on Jim McKay’s broadcasting but his service to his country.
“Jim was at his best during what had to be his most difficult assignment, hosting with skill and sensitivity ABC’s blanket coverage of the 1972 Munich Olympics hostage crisis,” President Bush said in a statement. ” We are also grateful for Jim’s service to his country as a Naval officer aboard a minesweeper during World War II.”
In addition to his son Sean McManus, president of CBS News and Sports, McKay’s survivors include his wife, Margaret, and his daughter, Mary.