Marty Glickman 1917-2001
Marty Glickman, who died Wednesday, was one of those quintessential New York sports figures—and he wasn’t even really known for his career as a world-class athlete. An Olympian in track and an All-East tailback for Syracuse in the ’30s, Glickman was the first elite-level athlete to segue into the top echelons of sports broadcasting. After handling college basketball games while still in his WWII Marine uniform, he was the first TV announcer in NBA history, and became the assured and assuring voice of the Giants, Knicks, Jets, Yonkers Raceway, and the Millrose Games. He even handled the play-by-play of a marbles tournament and once described the circus to an audience of 400 blind people.
Forceful and mellifluous, Glickman had a vivid immediacy that became a paragon for the next generation of men handling the microphone, notably Marv Albert, a fellow Syracuse alum who got his big break when, legend has it, Glickman intentionally delayed a return from vacation.
Glickman’s epochal broadcast career endured over a half-century, but the injustices of the 1936 Berlin Olympics stuck in Glickman’s craw even longer. Host Adolf Hitler let International Olympics Czar Avery Brundage know he did not want any Jews on the medals podium. Glickman and Sam Stoler, the only Jews on the U.S. track squad, were belatedly replaced in the 4 x 100-meter relay lineup by Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalfe.
In an interview with Jockbeat two years ago, at age 81, Glickman was as indignant about Berlin as though it were yesterday, and Brundage and assistant U.S. track coach Dean Cromwell were his main targets. “Cromwell was a son of a bitch and so was Brundage. These were anti-Semites of the first order,” he charged. Glickman even blamed Cromwell for denying him a spot in the individual 100 meters. The Olympic Trials stadium announcer “introduced me as the kid who finished third. But they placed Frank Wycoff third, and Foy Draper fourth—both were from Southern California, where Cromwell coached.”
Glickman was only 18 in 1936, and if World War II had not wiped out the 1940 Games, he would have had a strong chance at a 100-meter medal. That might have put him in the National Track & Field Hall of Fame, a place where he is not yet enshrined—but Avery Brundage and Dean Cromwell are.
For once, it might actually be about the money. Sure, Toronto Blue Jay fans have gone predictably ballistic over David Wells‘s trade-me-to-the-Mets-and-by-the-way-you-suck diatribe published in the Post last week: 86 percent of the respondents to a Toronto Star survey said, “Deal the bum.” But the Toronto media has picked up on Blue Jay GM Gord Ash‘s spin that, as Star columnist Bob Elliot put it, Wells’s mouth-off “was strictly a case of doing business.” And for once, a baseball executive might not be blowing smoke.
In the last graf of the Post article, after highlighting Wells’s dissing of Toronto fans, Cleveland fans, and Roger Clemens, reporter Andrew Marchand added, almost as an afterthought, “If Toronto keeps him or if Wells is dealt, he wants his $9 million club option for the 2002 season picked up and would like another year added to his deal.” Wells, who’s much savvier than his Heck’s Angels image suggests, realizes that his impending free agency won’t be worth much in the event of an MLB lockout. And his rant has made a deal—and a contract extension—more likely. But breathe easy, Mets fans. Although the mere thought of a locked-out David Wells hanging out by the fridge might be enough to give Richard Simmons unstable angina, rest actually seems to do Boomer good. The 1994-95 strike was clearly the turning point in Wells’s career—since the stoppage, he’s gone 98-54 for a Clemens-esque .645 winning percentage.
• Jockbeat considers the matter closed—after all, we unveiled our annual Sportswriter Poll results last week—but in dot.com land, the race for worst sports figure of the year is still on. At least in the sport of baseball. www.Jerkoftheweek.com announced last Thursday that John Rocker, Bud Selig, and Darryl Strawberry all tied for the site’s title of Baseball Jerk of the Year under their mysterious Jerk Points system. (For what it’s worth, Roger Clemens earned the Worst Sports Figure of the Year crown in the Voice poll.) Anyway, now it’s up to you to break the deadlock. Fans are invited to vote on this crucial issue at the Web site until January 17, and the dot.commies there assure us that every vote will be counted. The winner will be announced live on January 19 on Eyada.com‘s Kevin Cook show (Full disclosure/Pat on our own back: Jockbeat’s editor is a regular weekly guest on Cook’s ever-so-smart “Skybox” program). Jerk observers are encouraged to vote early and often. . . . • The always sensitive Peter Gammons writing at ESPN.com on domestic-violence charges against Mets closer Armando Benitez: “It’s just that athletes make so much money and sometimes use so little judgment in women that they get what they ask for. She was a stripper? And didn’t turn out to be Kathleen Kennedy Townsend? What a surprise!” And to think they put Gammons’s head on the 20-dollar bill. . . . • Have two football teams ever advanced to their respective conference finals on the basis of such inept offensive performances as the ones turned in by the Giants and the Ravens on Sunday? The Jints’ O failed to reach the end zone, lost two fumbles, and was responsible for only six of the team’s 20 points against the Eagles, while Baltimore’s offense contributed only 10 of the Ravens’ 24 points against the Titans and mustered a mere six (!) first downs. In fact, the Giants and Ravens were so weak on offense that they combined for fewer total yards than the Vikings racked up during their playoff victory the previous day. Whether you think the Giants and Ravens have been getting it done with defense (both teams scored defensive touchdowns on Sunday) or with mirrors (both also had special-team touchdowns—in Baltimore’s case, on a rare return of a blocked field goal), the fact remains that the two teams could meet in the Super Bowl, which would give us a recipe for the lowest-scoring title game since Miami beat Washington 14-7 way back in Super Bowl VII.
Contributors: Peter Gambaccini, Allen St. John, Ramona Debs, Neil Demause, Paul Lukas
Sports Editor: Miles D. Seligman