Quick Takes


    The lowest TV rating for a World Series was the last one at 10.1. Likewise, the lowest TV audience share for the event was last year’s 17. Fox may want to settle for those numbers in this year’s Fall Classic. Colorado versus either Cleveland or Boston is not exactly conducive to Fox selling air time to sponsors at top dollar. If the Cardinals versus the Tigers couldn’t generate successful television results, this one’s really going to stink up the profit-loss statement. However, it’s still a matter of revenues versus the television rights fees paid by Fox for the event. I won’t worry about Fox.


    If it is Colorado vs Cleveland, it could well be the first Game 7 ever played on New Years Eve. Whether or not it will be, lousy weather it will be throughout the Fall Classic. This one could become the Winter Classic.


Story of the Week



    To follow are facts mixed in with opinions, some flattering and some not so flattering, about Howard Cosell, and I will get the last word.


Source: International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame

Howard Cosell was arguably the most colorful and controversial national sports reporter and broadcast personality in American media. His provocative style re-defined sports play-by-play and color commentary from the 1960's through most of the 1980's.

Cosell came into prominence as a blow-by-blow radio-TV reporter of early Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali fights. An attorney by profession, his meteoric rise as a sports journalist paralleled the equally meteoric career of Clay-Ali. During the 1960s & 70s, Cosell called every Ali fight and virtually every major championship boxing match originating in the United States.

The most enduring Cosell imprint was created as a member of the American Broadcasting Company's original Monday Night Football broadcast corps. Teamed with two former football legends, Don Meredith and Frank Gifford, Cosell's colorful and provocative commentaries were both praised and deplored by viewers and critics alike--but were nonetheless effective in establishing the innovative Monday TV football telecasts as an American tradition.

For many years, Cosell also provided color commentary on ABC's Monday Night Baseball, and he toplined numerous other sports commentary shows on both television and radio. He also hosted a prime-time Saturday Night Live variety hour for a limited period on ABC-TV.

His many honors include election to both the American Sportscasters Hall of Fame and the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame, both in 1993.


Shirley Povich

Washington Post Staff Writer
May 2, 1995

Howard Cosell would have approved, the tributes to him that were immense, the obituaries reading like eulogies. The Washington Post put the news of his death on its front page. The New York Times keyed his obituary off the front.

Cosell was identified as the foremost sports television journalist of his time. He would have accepted it all with his trademark comment, "That's telling it like it is."

There is no question that Cosell made himself the focus of a generation of America's sports fans. He presided over all the big fights and "Monday Night Football," plus dabbled in baseball and critiqued everything in sight that he deemed would give him fan appeal as well as fan approval. It did.

All of this, with his flow of language, was unmatched in the television trade. He didn't merely address the microphones, he articulated into them. And always at length, in that nasal tone that told everybody it was none other than H.C. who was putting on another show. And damn the polysyllables, he used as many as he liked.

Did he have impact? You bet he had impact. His fame was such that, at a crook of his finger, the likes of George Steinbrenner and Pete Rozelle and Muhammad Ali would come bounding into his television booth, to be greeted and interviewed by the Great Mouth of the big ratings.

He considered himself somewhat above his colleagues in the "Monday Night Football" booth -- variously Don Meredith and Frank Gifford, none of whom had the importance to be able to say as Howard did, "I was having breakfast this morning with Vince Lombardi {or Pete Rozelle or Bowie Kuhn or Ted Kennedy} when he told me. . . ."

He was, after all, teaching a course at Yale, and was in demand as an after-dinner speaker everywhere and wasn't wedded to the booth for his livelihood like those jocks in there with him. In one talk to the assembled Associated Press editors, he suggested he might even run for the Senate, from New York. That wasn't chutzpah. That was Cosell.

He had the good sense in the "Monday Night Football" booth not to try to be too technical about the game, leaving that to the ex-pros,  Gifford and Meredith. Howard always gave big attention to the clock ("time is of the essence now"), knowing he was safe in that matter. When he misspoke about the game, his errors were noted, usually by the comparative jokester Meredith. Howard covered them with his patented "heh, heh, heh."

And beware the poor pro football rookie who fumbled or was hoodwinked on defense. He would be harangued for the rest of the night by Cosell to show off his perceptions and his expertise.

As in football, he was no student of the game when it came to his comments as boxing analyst and baseball commentator. He knew the passwords and had a way of sounding authentic. He was always incisive, always had a point of view and brooked no doubt of his authority.

Howard latched on to his favorite subjects. He was Ali's chief defender after Ali was stripped of his title for refusing to enter military service. He lionized Jackie Robinson as the first black to play in the majors. 

He had a running feud with sportswriters who critiqued him for his self-serving comments and his blunders. He, in turn, accused them of being company men and on the take, "the kind of sports journalism I find utterly obnoxious."

Cosell had a dark side. In a book he wrote after retiring from broadcasting pro football, he brutally savaged his former colleague, nice guy Frank Gifford, more than questioning Gifford's intelligence.

After doing so well by pro football and boxing for those many years, Howard trashed both sports after he left them. "Pro football," he said "I found a bore." And he said he was "disgusted with the brutality of boxing." Where was his displeasure with those sports when he was part of them and accepting big fees from the ABC network?

If there was a defining reaction to Howard Cosell by the sportswriters he castigated so often as "utterly obnoxious," it was probably delivered by the late and beloved Red Smith. With his characteristic subtlety it was Red who once said, "I have tried hard to like Howard Cosell, and I have failed."


    As for me, I loved the guy. He made sports far more interesting. Cosell was highly intelligent, he had great flair, and he was never boring. And to confirm my opinion, Monday Night Football has never been the same since Howard Cosell and Don Meredith left it, and it’s a sure bet that it never will achieve that same interest level again. In those days, MNF was an event no matter how bad the teams were, and it was the broadcast team that makes that statement valid.


Last Week’s Trivia


    Three players share the record for most hits in a World Series with 13. Name the players and the years. Bobby Richardson, New York A.L., 1964. Lou Brock, St. Louis N.L., 1968. Marty Barrett, Boston A.L., 1986.


Trivia Question of the Week


    When was the first Monday Night Football game played, who played, who won? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.