Friday, December 03, 1999

Fire up VCR for more SportsCentury


SPORTS ON TV-RADIO

BY JOHN FAY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Too bad the century can't end more often. The last year of the 1900s has brought a lot of terrific historic sports programming.

        A couple of shows coming up are examples of that. ESPN's SportsCentury will air half-hour shows on No.10 Babe Didrikson and No.9 Jack Nicklaus at 7:30 and 8 tonight.

        I got a review copy of the Nicklaus show, and it's worth setting the VCR for. The program is the usual combination of great old footage (even some home movies of little Jack) and compelling new interviews.

        The half hour is packed with emotion, concluding with Nicklaus' amazing victory at the 1986 Masters. My only quibble with the show is that it covers a great deal of how Nicklaus was perceived as a villain early in his career, as the guy who knocked Arnold Palmer off the throne. But Nicklaus is never asked about his days as “Fat Jack.”

        HBO will air Unitas, an hour-long look at Johnny Unitas, at 10 p.m. Wednesday. (The show will be replayed six times through the end of the month.)

        It's a treatment similar to ESPN's SportsCentury series. Younger viewers will learn what an impact Unitas had on football, and older viewers will be reminded of it.

        The documentary makes a strong argument that Unitas, perhaps more than any other player, changed the game. It is well worth watching.

        CBS GETS STARTED: CBS kicks off its college basketball coverage with the Kentucky-Indiana game at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

        Billy Packer, who will do the game with Jim Nantz, realizes it's hard to make one game stand out these days.

        “When I started this in 1978, giving the whole country a chance to see the Indiana-Kentucky game was great,” he said. “It's not a huge deal anymore.”

        In fact, Saturday it's one of six nationally broadcast games. Countless others will be shown regionally or locally.

        RANTS: A couple of readers called with athletes who should be considered for the Tristate All-Century Athletes list being compiled by WBOB-AM (1160).

        William from Cumminsville called to nominate Jack Twyman. “He should be on there for what he did for Maurice Stokes, if nothing else.”

        Agreed. That was an oversight.

        Dan from Anderson Township called to mention Robin Freeman. “He put the jump shot on the map here. He averaged 39.5 points for Hughes in 1951-52. That still stands as the city record. He went on to be All-American at Ohio State.”

        Agreed. I'm old, but not old enough to remember Freeman.

        Someone else called to nominate Middletown's Cris Carter, who probably deserves to be on the list.

        Whether any of the above will be voted onto the list of 20 by BOB listeners is hard to say. BOB begins releasing the list at 8:20 a.m. Thursday.

        John Fay covers TV/radio for The Enquirer. He can be reached at 768-8445.

       



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