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The Real McKay: My Wide World of Sports

The Real McKay: My Wide World of Sports

by Jim McKay, Peter Jennings (Foreword by)

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Jim McKay, one of the first ever television hosts, is best-known as the long-time lead anchor on ABC's "Wide World of Sports," the show that became the benchmark for sports television programming.

McKay won an Emmy for his sensitive coverage of the tragic hostage crisis at the 1972 Munich Olympics, and he recounts that unprecedented 15-hour broadcast in


Jim McKay, one of the first ever television hosts, is best-known as the long-time lead anchor on ABC's "Wide World of Sports," the show that became the benchmark for sports television programming.

McKay won an Emmy for his sensitive coverage of the tragic hostage crisis at the 1972 Munich Olympics, and he recounts that unprecedented 15-hour broadcast in harrowing detail. But McKay still believes in the purity, beauty, and glory of sports, and the book is filled with the wonderful events he covered in his sparkling 50-year career. He rates the greatest moments and the greatest athletes in his "Jim McKay Rankings." Among his favorites are down-to-the-wire finishes in Triple Crown races, Bob Beamon's record-breaking long jump at the 1968 summer Olympics, the celebrated battles between Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, and many more. With his trademark warmth and humor, McKay also shares never-before-told stories from the world of sports and the early days of television. The Real McKay is an uplifting and inspiring picture of sports and a testament to the triumph of the human spirit.

"Jim McKay is a great gentleman and one of America's best ambassadors in the world of sports. He has a fascinating story to tell--don't miss it!" --Jack Nicklaus

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Who can ever forget McKay's somber broadcast of the Munich Massacre, when the Israeli team was murdered at the 1972 Olympics? It was this terrible event that helped establish McKay's solid reputation for news and sports reporting. The irony is that McKay candidly admits to promoting the positive side of sports. Here, McKay tells of his 50-year career, taking a look at the variety of sporting events he's covered, including golf, tennis, horse racing, stock-car racing, skiing, and more. Above all, this is an inside look at network television by one of the guiding lights of ABC's 'Wide World of Sports.' --.Paul M. Kaplan, Lake Villa District Library

With more than 500 recipes -- and Giobbi's charming line drawings as illustrations -- this revision is well worth acquiring. According to the publisher, an introductory note in the original text regarding fat content -- "The total fat listed in the nutritional data includes other classes, e.g. phospholipids, and there is usually more than the sum of the saturated and unsaturated fats" -- was inadvertently omitted from the new edition; it will be corrected in new printings.

School Library Journal
YA-In this entertaining overview of his life and career, McKay shares his personal views and memories of the many notable events he witnessed, thus adding a human touch to the facts. From his first assignment as a reporter for the Baltimore Evening Sun, he progressed to TV, first with his own show, The Real McKay, then eventually on to Wide World of Sports. This book is a sampling of his experiences; highlights include glimpses of successful golfers, the Triple Crown horserace, and a series of comments on the many Olympic Games he has covered, including the tragedy in Munich in 1972. Readers learn a great deal about the rigors of travel for a sportscaster, and see McKay's love of sports and broadcasting.-Catherine Charvat, King's Park Library, Burke, VA
Kirkus Reviews
Broadcaster McKay tells his story in a voice grown familiar from 30 years of ABC's 'Wide World of Sports' and 11 Olympic Games: unfailingly charming, friendly, non-combative. McKay grew up in Philadelphia and began his career as a police reporter for the Baltimore Evening Sun, doing the odd radio or television spot. His 11-year stint with CBS in New York covering sports events—from roller derbies to horse races—wasn't altogether happy; indeed, the period culminated with a nervous breakdown in 1960. While covering the 1961 Masters Tournament, he got a call from ABC's Roone Arledge asking if he would be interested in hosting a summer replacement show covering a number of sports not normally seen on TV. The show became the 'Wide World of Sports,' still going strong. McKay decries the fact that the show would eventually become dominated by boxing—a sport he detests—and by the likes of daredevil Evel Knievel. But it is for his hosting of 11 Summer and Winter Olympic Games that McKay is best remembered, especially for his extraordinary coverage of the 1972 games at Munich when the Black September terrorists murdered 11 Israeli athletes. 'They're all gone,' he intoned wearily, creating one of the saddest, most memorable moments in broadcast history. There are few surprises among the heroes he chooses to remember: Peggy Fleming, Bob Beamon, Bill Toomey, Franz Klammer, Bruce Jenner, Nadia Comaneci, Eric Heiden, Bill Johnson, etc. And his McKay Rating for the Best Golf Pro (Jack Nicklaus), Best Jockey (Bill Shoemaker), Best Race Car Driver (Jackie Stewart), and so on, won't raise many arguments. But it's nice to read his thoughts on them. A pleasant walk downmemory lane with a genuinely decent man.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.42(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.91(d)

Read an Excerpt

In all my days of television, some eighteen thousand all told, one day stands out as the most significant of all: September 5, 1972.

It marked the halfway point of my career and the end of an age of innocence for sport.

The place was Munich, West Germany, scene of that summer's Olympic Games. The occasion was the most devastating, most tragic event ever to happen in connection with sport, something that has lingered in the minds of those who were there, or who watched on television, for a quarter of a century.


The Games had moved through their first eight days with Teutonic efficiency, but with a soft, light touch that was different from the last German Olympics, in Hitler's Germany of 1936. The organizers had declared in advance that these would be the "serene" Olympics, an attempt to heal some of the sores left by World War II.

The only marching feet heard at the opening ceremony were those of the athletes of 122 nations. German soldiers had been put to peaceable work -- building a five-hundred-meter-long rainbow made of balloons. Polite security personnel wearing pale blue blazers looked more like ushers than police.

The afternoon was sunny and pleasant as children circled the track strewing flowers. Even the Soviet team was cheered.

I had one touchy moment as I was doing my on-camera opening. A very large bumblebee buzzed ominously in front of my nose as I spoke, finally landing on my lapel, where it stayed until I finished. But like everything else that day, it proved in the end to be a serene, unaggressive bee, just minding its own business.

During the early days of competition, the Games were full of symbolism that pleased the organizers. A young American Jew, Mark Spitz, won an unprecedented seven gold medals in swimming -- a Jew was cheered in Germany.

A tiny, teenage Byelorussian gymnast, Olga Korbutt, a substitute on the Soviet team, suddenly found herself in the spotlight when a teammate suffered a broken arm. With a dazzling performance on the first night of the competition, a disastrous showing on the second night, and a marvelous, redemptive gold medal performance on the third evening, she became an international star and, in the process, drew more attention to the sport of gymnastics than it had ever had before. Perfect. A child from an old enemy nation becoming an Olympic heroine in Germany.

Everyone was looking forward to the beginning of men's track and field and the expected meeting between the great milers, Jim Ryun of the United States, and Kipchoge Keino of Kenya. Valery Borzov, the Soviet running machine, was the favorite in the sprints. Americans also anticipated the performance of Frank Shorter in the marathon and perhaps Dave Wottle in the 800 meters. You may recall Wottle as the frail-looking fellow from Ohio who always ran wearing a golf cap.

The Games were just what the government wanted...until that moment in the deep darkness before dawn, just after 5:00 A.M. on September fifth, when eight men dressed in athletic uniforms scaled the seven-foot fence surrounding the Olympic Village. A postman, on his way to work, saw them and, assuming that they were athletes sneaking back into the village after a night on the town, smiled and waved to them.

They waved back.

Minutes later, Tuvia Sokolsky, a coach on the Israeli wrestling team, awoke suddenly from a comfortable sleep. Someone was pounding urgently on the door of the Israeli sleeping quarters at 31 Connollystrasse. No Jew needs to be told what a knock on the door in the middle of the night means. Sokolsky knew instantly that the Arabs had come.

In the darkness, he made out the form of Joseph Gottfreund, pressed against the door, trying to keep out the intruders, and heard him shout to his colleagues, "Get out! Get out! Run away!" Gottfreund, a referee at the Games, had been a successful amateur wrestler in his native Romania before emigrating to Israel. At the age of forty, he was still a strong man physically, and held out as long as he could, enabling Sokolsky and other fortunate members of the team to escape out the windows. Ten others did not.

The terrorists, their faces concealed by ski masks, armed with submachine guns, pistols, and grenades, burst into the rooms. There was a furious, chaotic struggle during which Moshe Weinberg, coach of the Israeli national team and an Olympics referee, and Joseph Romano, a thirty-two-year-old, Libyan-born weight lifter, were shot and killed. The rest of the unarmed Israelis, nine of them, were forced to stand in a circle, back to back, bound to each other and blindfolded.

Weinberg's body was placed outside. Romano's remained in the room for some time.

When the phone rang in room 1810 of the Sheraton Munchen Hotel about eight o'clock that morning, I thought it must be a wrong number, because this was supposed to be my one day off during the Games, a brief interlude between the end of gymnastics and the beginning of track and field, my two play-by-play assignments. But it was Geoff Mason, right-hand man to Roone Arledge, the president of ABC Sports and producer of our telecast, and I could hardly believe what he was saying, that terrorists had invaded the Israeli quarters, had killed two men, and were threatening to kill others.

Furthermore, he said we would be going on the air, live, to the States, and that Roone wanted me to be the anchorman. "It's still the middle of the night in the States, so I'll call you back in an hour or so when we're almost ready to go."

Margaret and I were quiet as we ate breakfast in our room, hearing sirens from the police cars wheeling around the traffic circle below us on their way to the Olympic grounds. This was too much to fully grasp.

Then, I went down to the hotel swimming pool, a habit I'd developed during the Games, for a wake-up swim. I was still in the water when I was paged. It was Mason again, and his message was simple.

"Get out here," he said. "They're putting us on the air as soon as the network opens for the day back home."

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