Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame Inducts Second Annual Class

By Carolyn Braff

A crowd of more than 385 sports-business professionals gathered at the New York Hilton on Tuesday night to celebrate the second annual class inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame. Hosted by CBS Sports lead play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz, the emotional evening honored the accomplishments of nine innovators in sports broadcasting.

The inductees, representing the complete spectrum of sports-broadcasting-industry professionals, were once again selected by a blue-ribbon panel of 80 sports-TV leaders and executives assembled by the Sports Video Group.

The nine inductees:

  • Marvin Bader, ABC Sports
  • Chet Forte, ABC Sports
  • Curt Gowdy, ABC, CBS, NBC broadcaster
  • Ted Nathanson, NBC Sports director
  • Don Ohlmeyer, producer/director
  • Val Pinchbeck, NFL senior executive
  • Vin Scully, L.A. Dodgers broadcaster
  • Bob Seiderman, CBS and Fox audio mixer
  • Charlie Steinberg, Sony and Ampex executive

Howard Katz, NFL SVP of broadcasting and media operations, kicked off the evening by introducing longtime friend and legendary producer/director Don Ohlmeyer. One of the first producers of Monday Night Football, Ohlmeyer also worked on three Olympic Games and ABC’s Wide World of Sports, owned his own production company, and ran NBC’s West Coast division, teaching the importance of storytelling at every stop along the way.

“It’s rare in life when you get a chance to work with a larger-than-life character,” Katz said. “It’s even rarer when that larger-than-life character has the talent, the creative vision, and the business acumen to measure up to the hype. His creativity, imagination, and ingenuity has enriched the lives of all those who’ve had the privilege of working with him and of the millions of viewers who’ve enjoyed the fruits of his extraordinary talent.”

Marvin Bader, who served as ABC Sports’ VP of Olympic Operations, was also inducted. He revolutionized the way Olympic broadcasts were organized from the 1960s through the 1980s, overseeing the operations of 10 Olympiads and creating the modern system of media accreditation.

“I’m not sure how many of you in this room tonight have had the pleasure of seeing Marvin Bader do the impossible,” said Geoff Mason, now with ESPN and one of Bader’s protégés. “But that’s what Marvin did for decades, as we will be reminded tonight: make miracles happen and solve the unsolvable.”

Two sportscasters were inducted, including Vin Scully, who has broadcast Dodger baseball games for 60 years and joins Canon’s Larry Thorpe as the second inductee who is still working professionally.

“They say we have memory so we can remember flowers in December,” Scully said via videotape. “And you have given me an entire bouquet of flowers in December with this award.”

Legendary sportscaster Curt Gowdy was also honored, becoming the fourth sportscaster to be inducted into the Hall. During his 40-year career, Gowdy worked for all of the Big Three broadcast networks and is most remembered for being behind the mic when Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home-run record and the Jets improbably won Super Bowl III, as well as being as the host of The American Sportsman.

“There is no greater thrill for a sportscaster than getting to call the big game, and that is why it’s an honor to introduce our next inductee, Curt Gowdy,” said Nantz. “But, for all of Gowdy’s big games inside the broadcast booth, the Cowboy at the Mic’s biggest accomplishment was bringing the great outdoors into living rooms, via The American Sportsman.”

Gowdy’s son, Curt Gowdy Jr., accepted the award for his father, acknowledging the importance of family in his dad’s career by inviting a standing ovation for his mother, to whom Gowdy was married for 56 years.

The technical/operations side of the business was represented by two inductees. Bob Seiderman, who passed away 10 years ago at the age of 50, revolutionized sports audio with new miking techniques while working at CBS and Fox Sports. He was inducted by Fox SVP of Field Operations Jerry Steinberg. Fred Aldous, Fox Sports senior audio mixer and Seiderman’s protégé and close friend, accepted the award on Seiderman’s behalf, alongside Seiderman’s 11-year-old daughter, Ashley.

“I have been told that great things happen when you love what you do,” Ashley said. “This award shows what loving your work can accomplish. I am very proud, and I thank you.”

The second was Charlie Steinberg, former president of Sony Broadcast and head of Ampex, was inducted for a long list of technical contributions during a career that spanned the earliest days of videotape recording to the development of HDTV.

“If it weren’t for Charlie Steinberg, we would not be talking about many of these great innovations,” said Ken Aagaard, SVG and Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame chairman. “Charlie was always trying to find ways to introduce and refine the use of the equipment he controlled and, maybe more importantly, the people that made that equipment work.”

Steinberg himself took the stage to accept the award, noting that he was particularly humbled to join his classmates and the class that came before him.

“I have been fortunate to not only develop strong business relationships with some of the previous and current inductees but also deep friendships,” Steinberg said. “I thank all those who provided me the opportunity to be the ‘Joe the Toolmaker’ for these exciting developments.”

League professionals were also represented with the induction of Val Pinchbeck, the National Football League’s VP of broadcasting. Former Commissioner of the NFL Paul Tagliabue introduced Pinchbeck’s tribute video.

“It’s often said that Val was one of a kind,” Tagliabue said. “Actually, he was one of a kind in three or four different dimensions. No one could match his deep loyalty to his friends and colleagues. No one could match his passionate devotion to the interests of the National Football League. And no one could ever match Val’s penchant for stunning attire.”

Pinchbeck’s sons, Val Jr. and James, accepted the award on behalf of their father.

“This honor is even greater, given that this is just the second year of this awards ceremony,” James said. “The inductees for last year’s ceremony and this year’s cannot be considered anything other than the leaders and pioneers of the industry.”

Two incomparable directors were inducted: the late Ted Nathanson, who directed 13 of the first 26 Super Bowls and redefined Wimbledon coverage, and the late ABC Sports’ Monday Night Football director Chet Forte.

“I just wanted to express how much Dad loved what he did,” said Michael Nathanson, accepting on his father’s behalf alongside Ted’s daughters Carla and Laura. “He loved directing live TV sports. He did it with all the energy and passion that was possible. If he were here tonight, he would be thanking all the men and women who he teamed with each weekend for almost four decades, and most of all, he would be thanking my mom, his wife, Edith.”

For the final presentation of the evening, Ohlmeyer returned to the stage to introduce his colleague, Forte. Overcome with emotion, Ohlmeyer brought tears to every eye in the room as he recounted Forte’s accomplishments in his 25 years with ABC Sports that had almost been overshadowed by personal mistakes. Patricia, Forte’s widow, and Jacqueline, his daughter, then took the stage for the most emotional acceptance of the evening.

Nantz capped off the ceremony by presenting to the Forte family a replica of the jersey that “Chet the Jet” wore his senior year at Columbia University, when he was named college basketball’s Player of the Year. Patricia accepted the jersey in honor of the one-year anniversary of the restaurant she owns in California, where it will adorn the walls in celebration of Chet’s accomplishments.

The event was sponsored by B&H, Thomson Grass Valley, and Sony, with additional sponsorship coming from Genesis Networks, Harris, Linear Acoustic, Move Networks, NEP, Omneon, and QuStream. Bexel, IMG Media, NewTek, and Vizrt provided technical support for the ceremony.