Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The myth about the Fair Hooker comment attributed to Don Meredith

In 1970, ABC introduced Monday Night Football and placed the colorful Don Meredith in the booth alongside Keith Jackson and Howard Cosell. Meredith became known for his irreverent style and classic one-liners. Perhaps the most famous quote attributed to Meredith took place in the debut regular season edition of this prime time series. Late in the second quarter of that telecast, Meredith commented about the intriguing name of Browns wide receiver Fair Hooker. According to a frequently cited legend, Dandy Don uttered a follow-up remark along the lines of "I haven't met one yet."

I've long wondered how this commentary sounded on-air (more on that later). First, let's take a look at several versions of this tale which have appeared in print.

Meredith died in 2010 and his obituary in the New York Times contained this statement:

Mr. Meredith offered a taste of his breezy, even risqué, humor in that first broadcast. In talking about the Cleveland Browns receiver Fair Hooker, Mr. Meredith said, “Fair Hooker — I haven’t met one yet.”

Upon Meredith's passing, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel recounted the story this way:

Perhaps the greatest line of them all came in the first Monday night game between the New York Jets and the Cleveland Browns.
Cleveland receiver Fair Hooker had just caught a pass, which really got Meredith going.
"Isn't Fair Hooker a great name?" he asked.
Keith Jackson said nothing and for once Cosell was speechless.
Meredith then added, "Fair Hooker . . . I haven't met one yet."

Another variation appeared in this 1978 Washington Post article:

Or the time he said of Fair Hooker (the Cleveland wide receiver), "Now there's a name. Fair Hooker. I ain't never met one yet."

The 1988 book Monday Night Mayhem, a detailed history of ABC's Monday Night Football, offered this version:

"Isn't Fair Hooker a great name?" Meredith asked, with the implications hanging.
"I pass," Jackson said.
Cosell, perhaps reluctant to hear what might come next, said nothing.
Meredith went on anyway. "Fair Hooker", he mused. "I haven't met one yet."

Obviously some of the details on the exact wording and the reactions of Jackson and Cosell are inconsistent in these renditions. But the essence of the story is that during this Jets-Browns telecast, Meredith commented about the name Fair Hooker and then followed up with a classic line about never having met one. And numerous other newspapers, magazines, and books over the years have described the incident along those lines. However, there is one major problem with this tale. The famous alleged on-air follow-up statement never happened!

A full copy of this 9/21/70 telecast recently surfaced on YouTube. I located the exchange in question starting around the 1:23:21 mark as Meredith analyzes the previous play:

Meredith: Isn't Fair Hooker a great name?
Cosell: <after a slight pause> I pass.
Jackson: 3rd down and about 42 yards to go

And that was the extent of it. No follow-up remark of "I haven't met one yet" or anything resembling it. I wondered whether Meredith may have made that kind of statement later in the telecast. But I listened to the remainder of the video and found no such comment.

So where did this famous story come from? I have no idea. I suppose that once it appeared in print, other publications assumed it was true without attempting to verify it and simply ran with it. But that doesn't explain how it got printed that way in the first place. Perhaps Meredith was later interviewed about his "great name" comment and added the "haven't met one yet" quip at that time.

It seems that this often quoted Meredith line was really too good to be true.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Shot chart from CBS Sunday PGA Championship telecast - 2017

I tracked the strokes televised by CBS during the final round of the PGA Championship. On Sunday, CBS showed 401 strokes from the 4th round. This worked out to an average of 1.32 strokes per minute - which was much higher than the previous three PGA Championship Sunday telecasts I have tracked.

CBS televised 55 strokes by winner Justin Thomas. Playing partner Hideki Matsuyama who was in stronger contention early in the round was seen most often (68). Along with third round leader Kevin Kisner (64) and Chris Stroud (52), the final two pairings accounted for 60% of the televised shots.

At one point during the round, eight golfers were within two shots of the lead. CBS bounced around frequently to show key shots from the many contenders. A whopping eight players received coverage for at least 25 shots. CBS devoted 87% of the televised strokes to those eight players. Overall, CBS showed 23 different golfers playing strokes. The highest finisher not shown by CBS was Justin Smith (T9).

I have compiled these televised shot charts since 2014. For comparison to other majors, see the summary table which contains links to all of these charts. (Note: I was busy during the Sunday round of the 2017 Open Championship and never compiled that chart, but I have a DVR copy of that telecast and may get to it some day).

Here is the complete shot chart:

PlayerShots shownFinishPairing
Hideki Matsuyama68 (of 71*)T52
Kevin Kisner64 (of 72**)T71
Justin Thomas5512
Chris Stroud52T91
Patrick Reed30T24
Louis Oosthuizen28T23
Francesco Molinari28T26
Rickie Fowler25T58
Jordan Spieth14T2821
Graham DaLaet6T74
Jason Day5T99
Grayson Murray4T223
Ian Poulter4T2221
Sung Kang3T447
Jon Rahm3T5822
Matt Kuchar2T915
Brooks Koepka2T1318
Dustin Johnson2T1327
Gary Woodland2T225
Jason Kokrak2T3326
Marc Leishman1T1324
Chez Reavie1T226
Jordan Smith0T915

* Matsuyama took 71 "shots" plus one penalty stroke for a score of 72
* Kisner took 72 "shots" plus two penalty strokes for a score of 74

Note: The Pairing column reflects the tee time groupings in reverse order, so 1 =  final pairing, 2 = next-to-last, etc.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Shot chart from Fox Sunday US Open telecast - 2017

I tracked the shots televised by Fox during the final round of the US Open. With the leaders teeing off around 4pm ET, I started the tracking at 3:30 to provide a similar timeframe to the other majors I have monitored.

Fox showed 366 strokes during the tracking period. The final putt dropped at 8:12 which resulted in a rate of 1.30 strokes per minute. This marked a significant increase over the 1.12 and 1.18 shown by Fox during its last two US Open telecasts, but trailed the 1.41 rate from the 2017 Masters on CBS.

Fox showed all but four shots from both winner Brooks Koepka and Brian Harman who tied for second. Rickie Fowler had 58 strokes televised and Tommy Fleetwood received coverage for 56. During the tracking period, Fox devoted 67% of its televised strokes to those four players. Fox showed 23 golfers playing strokes with eight players getting coverage for at least 12 shots. The highest finishers not shown during the period were three in the group who tied for 16th.

Also notable: Fox went commercial-free for the last 46 minutes of play.

This is the fourth year that I have compiled these televised shot charts. For comparison to prior majors, see this summary table which contains links to all shot charts since 2014.

Here is the complete shot chart (including the highest finishers not shown during the tracking period):

PlayerShots shownFinishPairing
Brian Harman68 (of 72)T21
Brooks Koepka63 (of 67)12
Rickie Fowler58T53
Tommy Fleetwood5642
Justin Thomas30T91
Hideki Matsuyama21T28
Si Woo Kim14T133
Charley Hoffman1285
Xander Schauffele6T57
Brandt Snedeker6T96
Patrick Reed5T134
Russell Henley5T274
Cameron Champ5T3212
Steve Stricker4T1615
Bill Haas2T55
JB Holmes2128
Matt Kuchar2T1618
Sergio Garcia2T2110
Trey Mullinax1T99
Brendan Steele1T136
David Lingmerth1T2115
Jim Furyk1T2314
Scottie Scheffler1T2717
Bernd Wiesberger0T167
Eddie Pepperell0T1610
Chez Reavie0T1611

Note: The Pairing column reflects the tee time groupings in reverse order, so 1 =  final pairing, 2 = next-to-last, etc.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Shot chart from CBS Sunday Masters telecast - 2017

I tracked the number of strokes that CBS aired per player during the Sunday round of the Masters. The telecast began at 2pm ET and I counted a total of 430 strokes televised by CBS during regulation. The final putt in regulation was holed at 7:05 which worked out to an average of 1.41 strokes per minute - not only an increase over the rate from the 2016 Masters, but a new record high for all major tournaments I have tracked since 2014.

Note: CBS televised all eight shots from the playoff, but I did not count these in the table in order to provide a fairer comparison to the tracking for other tournaments.

CBS covered 66 regulation strokes from both winner Sergio Garcia (skipping two tap-ins) and runner-up Justin Rose (skipping two layups and a tap-in). Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth were featured next most frequently. Those four players (comprising the final two pairings) accounted for slightly more than half of all televised shots. Early in the telecast, CBS seemed quite consumed with the competition for low amateur honors and wound up devoting a total of 17 strokes to the two amateurs who made the cut.

The highest finisher not shown by CBS was Kevin Chappell who tied for 7th. CBS televised strokes from 27 different players. 13 players were covered for at least 10 shots.

This is the fourth year that I have compiled these televised shot charts. For comparison to prior majors, see this summary table which contains links to all shot charts since 2014.

Here is the complete shot chart (including the highest finisher not shown on the telecast):

PlayerShots shownFinishPairing
Sergio Garcia66 (of 68*)11
Justin Rose66 (of 69)21
Rickie Fowler50T112
Jordan Spieth35T112
Charl Schwartzel3134
Paul Casey2566
Charley Hoffman23T223
Thomas Pieters22T45
Adam Scott19T94
Matt Kuchar11T47
Ryan Moore11T93
Phil Mickelson11T2213
Stewart Hagestad10T3618
Fred Couples9T1810
Lee Westwood8T185
Curtis Luck7T4624
Rory McIlroy7T77
Martin Kaymer6T1616
Russell Henley3T1112
Jason Day2T2214
Jon Rahm2T278
Hideki Matsuyama1T1115
Jimmy Walker1T189
William McGirt1T228
Justin Thomas1T2214
Daniel Berger1T2718
Marc Leishman1T4326
Kevin Chappell0T79

* Garcia took 68 "shots" plus one penalty stroke for a score of 69

Note: The Pairing column reflects the tee time groupings in reverse order, so 1 =  final pairing, 2 = next-to-last, etc.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Rundown of Dick Vitale's college basketball TV partners

This week, ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale is scheduled to call a game with Karl Ravech for the first time. Ravech will become the sixth play-by-play announcer this season to receive a first-ever TV pairing with Dickie V.

After noticing a recent flurry of such first-time pairings, I wondered how many different play-by-play partners have shared the broadcast table with Vitale over the years. So I attempted to compile a list of all play-by-play announcers who have worked with Vitale on college basketball. (Note: I am almost certainly missing some announcers from the early ESPN years as these the hardest to research.)

Vitale called the first college basketball game ever on ESPN back in December 1979 alongside Joe Boyle. Eventually, ESPN paired him regularly with Jim Simpson. In subsequent years, his most common ESPN partners included Mike Patrick, Tim Brando, Brad Nessler, and Dan Shulman. When ABC started carrying college games, he frequently worked with Keith Jackson and later Brent Musburger.

The list is a mix of prestigious broadcasters and lesser-known voices. One interesting name (perhaps surprising to some) is Al Michaels who worked a single time with Vitale (the 1989 Pac-10 championship game on ABC).

I find the pattern intriguing. Starting from the late 1980s, Vitale was acquiring about two new partners per year. Then after 1997, Vitale went without any new partners until 2005 and only picked up three additions to this list from through 2013. However, a few years ago, ESPN installed Jay Bilas as its top analyst to work with Shulman on the highest profile games. This move has resulted in Vitale working with a wide variety of first-time partners in recent seasons (10 since 2014).

Here is the list that my research uncovered (with calendar year of the first such telecast for which I found evidence). Again, note that I am very likely to be missing some names from the first decade.
  1. Joe Boyle - 1979
  2. Jim Simpson - 1980 
  3. Jim Thacker - 1982
  4. Fred White - 1982
  5. Bob Ley - 1983
  6. John Sanders- 1983
  7. Kevin Slaten - 1983
  8. Mike Patrick - 1983
  9. Sam Rosen - 1984
  10. Rich Winter - 1984
  11. Tim Brando - 1985
  12. Jim Kelly - 1986
  13. Andy McWilliams - 1986
  14. Bob Rathbun - 1986
  15. John Saunders - 1987
  16. Keith Jackson - 1987
  17. Gary Bender - 1988
  18. Al Michaels - 1989
  19. Roger Twibell - 1989
  20. Barry Tompkins - 1989
  21. Ron Franklin - 1990
  22. Bob Carpenter - 1990
  23. Wayne Larrivee - 1991
  24. Gary Thorne - 1991
  25. Sean McDonough - 1992
  26. Brent Musburger - 1992
  27. Brad Nessler - 1992
  28. Joel Meyers - 1993
  29. Dave Sims - 1995
  30. Dan Shulman - 1995
  31. Dave Barnett - 1996
  32. Mike Tirico - 1997
  33. Mark Jones - 1997
  34. Dave Pasch - 2005
  35. Dave O'Brien - 2007
  36. Jon Sciambi - 2011
  37. Bob Wischusen - 2014
  38. Rich Hollenburg - 2014
  39. Adam Amin 2015
  40. Rece Davis - 2016
  41. Mike Morgan - 2016
  42. Jason Benetti - 2016
  43. Dave Flemming - 2016
  44. Doug Sherman - 2016
  45. Tom Hart - 2017
  46. Karl Ravech - 2017