Eight Legends Inducted into Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame

The evening of Dec. 14 was a special one at the New York Hilton, with eight legends inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame. In a touching ceremony hosted by CBS Sports’ Jim Nantz, five of the eight inductees were there to receive the honor in person, friends and family represented two more, and one very special inductee participated live via satellite.

The evening began with the induction of Pat Summerall, one of the most respected play-by-play voices ever to touch broadcasting. Surrounded by his wife, daughter, and three grandchildren — including Patrick, celebrating his 18th birthday — Summerall thanked all of the people he worked with throughout his five decades in the business who helped make his career so successful.

A behind-the-scenes video at NBC’s Sunday Night Football set the stage for the induction of NEP Technical Manager John Roché. Accompanied by friends, family, and co-workers, he discussed his start in the business and what an honor — and a surprise — it was to find himself among such storied company in the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

John “Flip” Filippelli, president of production and programming for the YES Network, took the stage to accept the award on behalf of late New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. After warning the audience that telling all his stories about “The Boss” would take far longer than the night had allotted, Filippelli discussed the beauty of working for a network where budgets were never an issue.

CBS lead handheld cameraman Davey Finch was next to take the stage, to rousing applause from supporters and friends at CBS Sports and beyond. He paid special tribute to his mother, who was in the audience to celebrate his induction, and discussed how happy he was to have spent his entire career as a cameraman. Although people often wonder why he has not yet become a producer or director, after 30 years behind the lens for CBS, nothing makes him happier than creating the pictures that make memories.

Chester “Chet” Simmons’s widow, Harriet, was on hand to accept the award for the former president of NBC Sports and first CEO of ESPN. She discussed her husband’s passion for his work as well as his passion for his family. She also expressed her gratitude to all of her husband’s friends, employees, and co-workers in the audience who had given her family such wonderful support over the months since Chet’s passing.

Geoffrey Mason was the next to enter the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame, and he did so in fine fashion, paying tribute to all his mentors along the way. From Jim McKay, who taught him the importance of the written word, to Howard Cosell, who taught him the importance of Howard Cosell, Mason declared his gratitude for all of those – at ABC Sports, NBC Sports, NFL Network, ESPN, and beyond — who have helped shape his storied career.

Nantz offered a special thanks to Mason for his tireless dedication to keeping the ABC Sports alumni network alive and well.

Leonard Chapman, CEO of Chapman/Leonard Studio Equipment, took the stage to express his great surprise on entering a Hall of Fame alongside his fellow members of the class of 2010. He paid tribute to Frank Chirkinian for bringing his studio cranes out into the field and described how lucky he felt to be working in the sports business, after an accident kept him from becoming an athlete.

The evening capped off with a very special exchange when John Madden, one of the industry’s best-known color commentators, joined the ceremony live via satellite from his home in California. He said his entire life has been recess and he feels lucky to have continued playing, first as an NFL player, then as a coach, and finally as a broadcaster. Madden then engaged in conversation with Summerall, the two discussing their first broadcast together and their 22 years together in the booth. Tributes to Madden and Summerall from the top announce teams at all four NFL networks rounded out a memorable evening.

All three past classes of inductees also were honored throughout the night with tribute videos, produced by HBO Studio Productions and highlighting each of the 28 members of the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

Benefactor Sponsors of the event were Sony and Bexel. Patron Sponsors were Avid, The Studio at B&H, Chyron, and NEP.

Click here for full bios of the eight inductees in the class of 2010.