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Outside the Lines: Marty Glickman

Host - Bob Ley, ESPN.
Guests - Marv Albert, NBC Sports; Bob Costas, NBC Sports.
Coordinating producer - Jonathan Ebinger, ESPN.

Bob Ley, host - He was an Olympian and a local New York hero, a broadcaster who knew all the players.

Marty Glickman, veteran broadcaster and olympian - I got Jackie and Pee-Wee together. I knew them both quite well.

Ley - And he helped define his profession.

Unidentified Male - Marty was really I think the first national TV Announcer for basketball.

Glickman - Dave Becker lets it go. Swish.

Ley - Today on Outside The Lines, Marv Albert and Bob Costas join us to celebrate the life and career of broadcaster Marty Glickman.

Announcer - Outside The Lines is presented by State Farm Insurance. Joining us from ESPN Studios, Bob Ley.

Ley - By any measure, either chapter of his life standing alone would be a considerable legacy. That Marty Glickman was both at the center of 20th century history. And later, the man who shaped his profession illustrates just how remarkable is life was. Marty Glickman died Wednesday at the age of 83.

For those who don't recall him as a sportscaster, then temptation is to say, "Well, that's too bad," for he was not just a pioneer, but in his prime he was peerless. He established the way that games are described, the way that events are reported on the air.

But even if you have never heard him, his work lives on because in a business that can summon some of the more petty of human emotions, Marty Glickman was known for his willingness to teach and to guide, and also to encourage others in his field.

Joining us through this morning's program are two men who can attest to that, Marv Albert and Bob Costas.

But before he did any of those things, Marty Glickman was a stellar athlete, one of the top sprinters in the world. Imagine being a Jewish kid from Brooklyn just 18 and finding yourself at the Olympics, a threat to embarrass Adolf Hitler.

Glickman - Berlin in 1936 during the Olympic games was like one huge festival. There were banners all over. And the most prominent banner was the Nazi swastika. And at that time in '36, it didn't mean anything to us.

We sensed no political overtones in the stadium. We saw how the German people responded to Adolf Hitler. When he came into the stadium, they would stand en masse, 120,000.

We were called into one meeting by head coach Lawson Robertson. And Robertson said that there were very strong rumors the Germans were saving their best sprinters to upset the American team, hiding them, keeping them secret, so they could upset the American team in the four-by-100-meter relay.

And consequently, to make sure that we won the race, Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalf were going to replace Sam Stollar and me. We were shocked.

I said, "Coach, there's bound to be a furor about this back in the states because we're the only two Jewish boys on the team. And there will be a charge of anti-Semitism, cow-towing to Adolf Hitler."

"We'll worry about that later."

I said, "Coach, we'll win by 15 yards. We're that much better than anybody else."

"We'll see about that. You're taking no chances. You're not running. Sam is not running. Jesse and Ralph are."

Jesse said, "Coach, I don't want to run. I'm tired. I've had it. I've won my three gold medals. Let Marty and Sam run. They deserve it."

And coach pointed a finger at him and said, "You'll do as you're told." And in those days, most black athletes did as they were told. So they ran. They won by 15 yards.

And the most recent information that we have, and the information has developed for more than 60 years, develops now that Joseph Goebbels, head of the ministry of propaganda, had contacted Avery Brundage, didn't want to have Jews run for the United States or on that track before 120,000 people, keep them from embarrassing Adolf Hitler.

When black athletes won, Adolf Hitler left the stadium. And he didn't want to be there when Jewish athletes were on the winning podium because they say the only way we could have lost was that we dropped the baton.

Ley - Marty Glickman from an ESPN classic interview three years ago.

To the day he died, Glickman believed such a letter existed from Joseph Gerbels to Avery Brundage, the head of the U.S. Olympic Committee. That letter has yet to be produced.

Joining us this morning from New York City, Marv Albert, the long-time voice of the New York Knicks and Rangers and the lead NBA Announcer for NBC Sports. And from St. Louis, Bob Costas, who handles so many duties, including hosting the Olympics for NBC.

Marv, let me begin with you. Growing up as a young Jewish kid in New York City, what did the story of 1936 mean to people like you?

Marv Albert, NBC Sports - Well, Marty would -- as one who worked for Marty right from my high school days as his producer and writer and as a back-up announcer, he actually gave me my start, as he did many other young broadcasters. He would talk about it from time to time.

But I felt as the years went on, particularly from about '86 on, where he took a trip to Berlin to actually honor the memory of Jesse Owens' participation in the '36 Olympics, he really became more embittered about it later on as there were various TV specials made about it. There was more discussed about it.

He was certainly upset when it happened. But I think, as he put it, he got into a state of rage when he went back to visit the stadium and looked up at the area where Adolf Hitler was sitting. And he was constantly thinking about it later on. I think it really upset him.

And as you say, as a young Jewish boy growing up in the Brooklyn area, it was more of a legendary thing that I heard about. It wasn't something that touched me because it happened many years before I was born. But it's something I think that really affected him later on in his life.

Ley - Bob, lost perhaps in all the obituaries and remembrances is the fact this was one heck of an athlete, one of the fastest men in the world at the time.

Bob Costas, NBC Sports - Yeah, he said only Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalf of all of the American sprinters could run faster than he could. He beat just about everybody else among the American competition and many of the best in the world.

In the years leading up to and immediately after the Olympics, he was also a very good football player at Syracuse University. And in a real sense, he was the first jock-turned-broadcaster, although we think of most ex-athletes as being color men or analysts. He, of course, became a play-by-play man. There was no concept of the color man in the 1940s.

Ley - Ally Sherman tells the story and Phil Mushnik has it in this morning's "New York Post," Bob, at age 46, he lined up and outran all the other New York Giant running backs.

Costas - Well, that should have been a signal to Ally Sherman that perhaps he should have drafted some fresh running backs. And I'm sure Marty was pretty quick for 46. But that's an amazing story.

Ley - Well, we're going to step aside for just a moment. More with Marv Albert and Bob Costas. They will be with us through this program.

And next, we'll tell you how a young sprinter from Syracuse came to shape his profession.

Glickman - The pace steps up. There's another interception by Foley basket-bound.

Ley - As America moved from getting its sports by radio to the new medium television, Marty Glickman began to define an emerging profession, sportscaster.

Glickman - This is Marty Glickman, your Paramount News sports commentator.

Ley - At the birth of the NBA, Glickman became the New York Knicks' first announcer. With those games and his popular college calls, he established a new language for basketball.

Glickman - Leward fires away. Swish.

Ley - Glickman's patter was pioneering. But the games he described suffered from an old problem, point shaving. While that was not discovered until later, the presence of gambling around the games was apparent at the time.

Glickman - You'd walk in the old Madison Square Garden on 50th Street, and the talk would be, "The points are seven," or, "The points are 12," or, "The points are three. The points have moved up to four."

That's all anyone talked about. Everyone seemed to have a bet on the game.

Ley - Despite scandal, it was a golden age of sports. Glickman hosted broadcasts for both the Brooklyn Dodgers and the dynastic Yankees.

Glickman - Hi there, fans. I'm Marty Glickman. We're out at the ball park to talk with one of the great left-handers of the game.

Ley - Boxing was king. And Glickman was ringside.

Glickman - Down goes Turpin.

Ley - But it was his descriptive radio work with the New York Giants through 23 seasons that cemented Glickman's place in sports history. There was no home television in the NFL. Glickman's calls were the final authority.

He later broadcast Jets games for 11 seasons and became renowned in his profession as a teacher and mentor. Scores of established sportscasters recall Glickman's counsel and generosity.

Unidentified Male - He said, "When you're sportscasting, talk English. You don't hear the players in the locker room say, "Here I am toting my pigskin. I'm carrying the ball. Simple." And I've carried that advice with me my entire career.

I loved Marty. I'll miss him.

Ley - His Olympic snub remained a central part of his life, sparking this reaction upon one of his returns to Berlin.

Glickman - Sadness, wonderment. Just a few minutes ago, I sat in Adolf Hitler's box. I was there. He was not.

Ley - It was this precision and clarity that Marty Glickman conveyed along with his love of the game through a full life.

Glickman - I still stop as many of us do, walk by a schoolyard nowadays. And there's a basketball game going on. I stop and I watch the game. Those aren't the Knicks and the Celtics playing in this basketball game. Those are neighborhood kids. But I watch the game.

And some of those kids are real good. And I'm enthused about those kids. And I'm enthused about the sport.

Ley - We continue again with Marv Albert and Bob Costas. And, Marv, I saw you nodding as Len Berman recounted Marty's advice. Just simply -- tell it simply. Tell the story.

Albert - Right. And also it should be pointed out, to me the most significant aspect of Marty's career and the way he was -- and I know that Bob would agree. He was just so generous with his time and was so inspiring to young broadcasters. And he always had time for people be it through his teaching days or even when he was in his heyday as the voice of the Knicks and the Giants.

But he always would tell me, "When you're doing a broadcast, you're sitting across from someone," to be across a table. And forget the cliches. Be very direct. You must be objective. And certainly in terms of radio play-by-players you alluded to during the course of one of those pieces, he set the geography of the court.

He set the terminology, even carrying over to television. And obviously, he was for the most part a radio broadcaster. But he would always emphasize, "You must be specific and very precise."

For example, on a radio broadcast, it's the right side of the lane. It's the left side of the lane. It's the right baseline.

Ley - He was the first guy to call it the key, wasn't he?

Albert - Yes he was. He coined a number of phrases. And make sure you describe what kind of shot. Is it a jump shot? Is it a running one-hander? Is he driving down the lane? Is he driving across the lane? And that had an effect on myself and I'm sure many other broadcasters who grew up listening and who had the benefit of his teaching later on.

Ley - And, Bob, in fact at NBC Sports he was brought in by Michael Weisman at one point, who was the executive producer, to teach established professionals and also ex-athletes how to do a game.

Costas - Yeah, Merlin Olson, who always took a thoughtful approach, made the point to Mike, "You know, all our lives we're coached. Now we go into the broadcast booth" -- Merlin was working with Dick Enberg then -- "and we don't really get the kind of advice that we'd respond to."

So Mike brought Marty Glickman in. He was a natural. The primary objective was to evaluate the work of athletes-turned-broadcasters. But inevitably, he also watched the games and heard the tapes of everybody, Marv, myself, Dick Enberg. And all of us, no matter how long we'd been in the business, benefited from his observation.

Albert - And he could be very direct, as you know.

Costas - Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

Ley - Give me an example.

Albert - I mean, he was encouraging. But on the other hand, if he felt there was a criticism or something that he wanted to point out, he would not pull any punches. And he would let you know.

But he was trying to help you. So I think it was accepted. For the most part, the criticism was directed at the analysts. And the unfortunate part of it is today that there is so little feedback at all the networks, all the stations. There's no real quality control. There's no one who ever says, "Hey, that's a good job," or, "That's a bad job," or, "You should do this to improve," or, "Hey, you're right on. This is exactly what we want to see."

And that's a shame because I think there are people who could improve if there were somebody who would be respected who would play that role.

Ley - We have an example. We have a videotape of an example of one of the warm-up exercises he advised others to try, including quoting Edgar Allen Poe. Let's listen.

Glickman - "Once upon a midnight dreary, while I ponder weak and weary, over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten law," I mean, that's "The Raven" by Edgar Allen Poe. I memorized that, I don't remember when.

But I used to say that to warm up for a broadcast because my mouth, my tongue, my lips are muscular. They're muscle-involved. Certainly, they get direction from my brain. But they are muscles. And they must be warmed up so I can speak them smoothly, glibly, quickly.

Ley - Bob, at one point I guess you at a very young age were doing network television.

Costas - Yeah.

Ley - And you wanted to sound more mature.

Costas - Given the age factor, I was still in my twenties when I came to NBC and in the over-eagerness of youth. He advised me to slow down. He said, "Have you ever heard a middle-aged or older person who you respect who speaks so rapidly or tries to get things in to such an extent that it overloads the listener?"

He said, "You don't hear that with people you respect and you've admired growing up listening to them. So try and pull the pace back." And that was useful advice for me.

Ley - We're going to continue in a second and place Marty Glickman in context in one of the great novels of the American 20th century as we continue with Bob Costas and Marv Albert in appreciation of Marty Glickman.

Ley - We continue with our appreciation of the life and the career of Marty Glickman. Where did he stand in sports? We've pretty well delved into that.

Where was he in the American 20th century? Well, certainly one of the great novels of the 20th century, "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac, and indeed Glickman gets a mention, one of his characters saying, "Man, have you dug that mad Marty Glickman announcing basketball games? Up to mid-court, bounce, fake, set, shot, swish, two points. Absolutely the greatest announcer I ever heard."

I guess, Bob, that's in league with Hemingway and DiMaggio, "Old Man and the Sea."

Costas - And, you know, Marty was a modest man. He had belief in his abilities. He was proud of his work. But he didn't wear acclaim like that on his sleeve.

However, when he was inducted into the Sportscasters and Sports Writers Hall of Fame, his daughter Nancy handled the duties introducing him. And she read that passage from Jack Kerouac.

And I think what Kerouac was getting at was it wasn't just mere skill. Marty, perhaps because he'd been an athlete, perhaps because he was a man of his times, I don't know, he had -- he was almost wedded to the rhythm of the games that he broadcast. It was almost organic. You could feel how connected he was to it.

He was a man of the world. He traveled. He had interests besides sports. But he never lost his boyish enthusiasm for sports.

Ley - I guess, Marv, at one point early on, you would walk around your house talking like Marty Glickman.

Albert - Yes, my parents were wondering about that. It was actually because I had worked for Marty at WCBS Radio when I was still in college and was answering phones at his office and writing for him. So when you write for somebody, as you know, you hear their voice, repeating the words in your head.

And I'm going around my house in Brooklyn. I'm talking like Marty. I'm answering the phone like Marty. And my early broadcasts sounded like Marty. That staccato style that Bob mentioned, the rhythm of the game, which you try to get into in both basketball and football where they're action-paced type games when you're doing radio.

But, yeah, my parents were wondering, what is going on with this guy? Who is he working for? But in time, you get out of that by developing your own style. And I think that's what happened in my case, although there are still some basic philosophies that I follow that Marty had set up. I'm very much influenced by his style.

Ley - In the latter years, though, of television when there was big money, of course, in the big network broadcasts, he never broke through to be a national television figure, Marv. Why do you think that was? There are people that would say it was whispered, "too Jewish, too New York."

Albert - I think, and I think Marty felt it was more of a case of the so-called New York label at that time. Although he had a terrific sports voice and a terrific style, it wasn't the mellifluous voice that those particular executives at that time in the '50s were looking for. It was a completely different landscape in terms of broadcasting and sportscasting.

And he did do the NBA nationally, although it was the Dumot network, which was almost national in the early '50s. It was the first national telecast of NBA.

But he always felt that he was passed by people who he was better than. And he felt he did not get the crack. And he felt he would have adjusted to television in the '50s. And then it kind of passed by. He did some television, but not that much on a national level, which was a shame because he would have been great.

Ley - Bob, I mentioned this in the piece. The New York Giants' radio broadcasts. I don't think people that are much younger than you, and I would remember when there was no home television, what was the mystique of those giant Marty Glickman telecasts, he and L.D. Rogades?

Costas - Yeah, even if a game was sold out, they wouldn't lift the blackout. And the Giants of the '50s and at least of the mid-'60s were a legendary team with colorful characters. And the way you followed them unless you had a ticket for the game was to listen to Marty Glickman.

And he had been the voice of the team for so long and knew all the players. He practically could guess play to play what Ally Sherman and his coaching staff might run. And he had that great voice that Marv mentioned, that voice that just drew you in.

It was warm. But at the same time, it carried authority and distinctiveness. And man, on a fall or winter afternoon when the Giants were playing, you wanted to hear Marty Glickman. And if the game was somehow available to a kid like me on Long Island on television, if I could fiddle with the antenna and pull in some staticky signal from New Haven or something, I still would turn the sound down on that and listen to Marty Glickman on the radio.

Ley - We've got about a minute left. Marv, quickly as you go through your duties, what will cause you to think of Marty?

Albert - I will think of him every day for the rest of my life. I think it's more aside from the broadcast aspect, the generosity, the inspiration that he provided not only to myself but to many other people, be it sportscasters or people from different walks of life. He was such a giving person. He touched on so many people's lives.

He would give me a call from time to time to encourage me. Or he might point something out. He was so much a part of my life. He was just a wonderful man.

Ley - And, Bob, what would cause you as you go through your many duties to think back?

Costas - Well, I think one of the nicest things you could say about someone after they're gone is when you think of them, will you smile? And I will smile whenever Marty Glickman's name is mentioned, both because I recall him as one of the voices of the soundtrack of my youth and also because of what a gracious man he was.

He was talented. He was passionate. But he was also classy and gracious. So I'll smile when I think about him. And I'll always remember him with fondness and also with gratitude.

Ley - Gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us this morning. Marv Albert and Bob Costas...

Costas - Thank you, Bob.

Ley - Bob, best of luck with your upcoming series on HBO Sports.

Costas - Thanks. See you, Marv.

Albert - Thank you, Bob.

Ley - We continue on Outside The Lines. We'll take a look back and ahead at what's available at

Ley - Last week we focused on the efforts of Louisville basketball player Cassie Bishop to gain a medical waiver from the NCAA for additional eligibility, this because of her bipolar disorder.

The impact of bipolar, or manic depression, was underscored again this week. Demitrius Underwood of the Dallas Cowboys, who suffers from the disease and tried to kill himself two years ago, again attempted suicide Wednesday. He is currently hospitalized.

This e-mail, one of the most poignant from last week's show. "I must tell you your most recent program about people that suffer from bipolar made a great impact on my life. I am a 36-year-old mother of three suffering from bipolar for all of my life.

"The highs and lows are a life of hell. Most recently, my husband of 15 years has asked for a divorce. After my parents saw your show Sunday, they both called crying saying, "Oh, my God, this is you."

"My life is day to day. Every ounce of my being goes into my children because that makes me direct my need. It is almost impossible to describe to anyone what I go through daily.

"I know that doctors care and hope that I will be able to find some help. Now someone understands. You have truly saved a marriage and a life."

A humbling e-mail. We appreciate that.

The topic of all of our Sunday program online interactive at Type the keyword otlweekly on our homepage. We've got a library of transcripts and all streaming video, and also a place for you to send your e-mail.

Our e-mail address as always And we always look forward to receiving your e-mails. And we excerpt them each week,

A chat upcoming to continue our look at Marty Glickman with the author of "Voices of the Game," Curt Smith online at Thursday at 1:00 Eastern. Curt Smith will join us online.

Ley - Our look at Marty Glickman re-airs on ESPN2 at 12:30 Eastern. ESPN Classic tonight with real classics "Chariots of Fire." That's at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN Classic.

Now to the ESPN Zone in Times Square, Dick Schaap and "The Sports Reporters."

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