Sometimes in radio and TV things get crazy. You know, the best laid plans and all that. And sometimes, rarely, it all comes together. Yesterday on the radio show was one of those “all comes together” days.
I had asked my friend, tennis legend Tony Trabert to come on the show to talk about the U.S. Open. He’s a fantastic guest, as you might expect after over 30 years in broadcasting. He also happens to be a great guy and I’m lucky to count him among my friends. Anyway, I did a little research and found a cover story on Trabert from August 29, 1955.
He had already won two legs of the Grand Slam and was prepping for the US Open and the Davis Cup. Tony laughed and said “25 cents Sam,” in reference to the price on the cover. (It also says $7.50 a year.) I read him a quote that ended something like, “I work and train hard and I don’t want to lose a match because some linesman isn’t paying attention.” When I asked Tony if he could ID the person behind that quote he said, “I don’t know, McEnroe?”
Of course it was Trabert himself, quoted in Sports Illustrated.
It was only funny because Trabert has always been known as the ultimate sportsman and McEnroe’s behavior on the Davis Cup team while Tony was captain was so boorish that it eventually lead to Trabert’s retirement. Tony went on to explain that during that era in big time tennis, they got the linesmen out of the stands.
“Sure, they’d get club members, but there weren’t any professionals or people trained to do that.”
“Yeah, but what Aussie was going to make a call against John Newcombe?” I asked.
“You’re right about that!” Tony agreed.
The rest of the interview was much more like a conversation about tennis rather than an interrogation. Like I said, sometimes it comes together.
Following Trabert, legendary NFL scout Gil Brandt came on the air and told some stories I’d never heard. “Bob Hayes was so strong we figured he’d be able to handle the NFL,” Brandt threw in when talking about drafting early.
“How you determine he’d be able to play in the NFL though?” I asked.
“It’s funny how we got Hayes,” Brandt continued. “We had the draft right after the last regular season game because of the AFL and about 1 o’clock in the morning we had gone through just about everybody and he said ‘Who’s the fastest guy up there?’ ‘Bob Hayes,’ I answered. So we took him. “
” Two rounds later after there were a bunch of chicken bones and coffee cups strewn around it was our turn and Tex said ‘Who’s the best football player?’ ‘Roger Staubach,’ I said. So we took two Hall of Famers in the middle of the night, kind of on a hunch.”
I listened to that story with my mouth open just amazed that a) I’d never heard it before and b) Brandt was telling it on our air. Brandt went on to tell a half-dozen stories like that with me being more amazed by each one. He did say they drafted 9 Hall of Famers in their first fifteen years. I couldn’t help compare that to the Jaguars track record since they became a franchise.
Just one of those days when it all comes together.