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RIP Bill Mazer
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Author:  Chico [ Thu Oct 24, 2013 4:12 pm ]
Post subject:  RIP Bill Mazer

He died this week at the age of 92.

Some of you have no idea who he was.

Others remember him only as "The Amazin'", the sports anchor on Channel 5 News whose encyclopedic knowledge of sports enabled him to answer the most difficult sports trivia question off the top of his head with an accuracy rate close to 100 pct.

Before that, he started "Sports Extra" as an anchor on Channel 5, a Sunday night wrap-up show that was essential viewing for NY sports fans in an era when there was no ESPN or any other cable sports news show and TV sports news came in a few minutes at the end of the 11 o'clock news, usually before or after the weather.

He was also an analyst on network telecasts, most prominently CBS weekly NHL games on Sundays and the host of some NY-based network daytime game shows.

Before all that, however, he hosted a 4:30 pm to 6 pm sports show on New York's first major talk format radio station, WNBC (660 am). The station had 24 hours of talk (a new concept at the time), but allocated the afternoon slot to Mazer and sports.

Mazer's encyclopedic knowledge was on display there, as he talked about every sport you can think of. He also had something called "The Challenge Round", where a listener could call in and try to stump him. If the listener stumped him, the listener would have to answer correctly a question Mazer would ask in a related field. If they managed to beat Mazer, they won a prize (questions could not be directly related to statistics in that the correct answer couldn't be a number alone, so a listener couldn't call up and ask how many triples Babe Ruth his in 1929).

Mazer also authored a book called "The Sports Answer Book", which covered a bunch of history in a variety of sports.

In that era (the mid-60s), I was devoted fan, listening each day after school and before dinner. At the time, I was about 10 years old and into baseball and football, but not many of the other sports. Listening to Mazer's show helped me become a Rangers and Knicks fan by the time I was in the 8th grade.

One of my 10th birthday presents was I was allowed to call his show, probably my first-ever long distance call. I also got "The Sports Answer Book" for Christmas and it was a foundation for a lot of the knowledge I have in sports history. I learned about the Olympics and boxing, in addition to the top team sports.

Mazer wrote about how boxing was a pathway to the American dream for a lot of immigrants. noting that there was an era when boxing was dominated by Jews who had come to the US as impoverished immigrants from Europe. Maybe not such a big deal, but the first time a 10-year old thought much about sociology.

Another thing about Mazer is that he was respectful to all of his callers, even kids, talking to them like adults if they behaved properly when they called.

That's contrasted with John Sterling, who prohibited kids to call in on his WMCA show (way before he ever called a Yankees game) a few years later, saying he didn't like the sound of their voices over the air.

To this day, I think WFAN screens out young callers.

My own father never cared much for sports, so Mazer was really the first adult I ever heard talk about sports the way most of us do here.

For me, even though I never did more than listen to Mazer or watch him on TV, his passing is a reminder of my formative years as a sports fanatic and he played an influential role for me in those years.

Author:  MikeH [ Thu Oct 24, 2013 4:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: RIP Bill Mazer

I knew nothing about the man until just now and thank you for bringing him to my attention. I must find out more now since everything written here describes a man I'd like to know.

A really nice post, Chico.

Author:  SHPIDA [ Thu Oct 24, 2013 4:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: RIP Bill Mazer

Love the thoughts, Chico.

Had never heard of him, but now I won't forget him.

Author:  HeyNowHK [ Thu Oct 24, 2013 5:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: RIP Bill Mazer

he was actually working until just a few yrs ago if I'm not mistaken... until maybe 08. He had a certain goofiness about him until he got going and you realized that his knowledge was pretty real. And yeah he was from a different era when respectable and respected were kind of assumed but he didn't change with the times. He was who he was all the way thru - a gentleman.

Author:  Chico [ Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: RIP Bill Mazer

Thanks to all for the kind words.

Bob Raisman, who is approx my age was a fan, too (used to call in to Mazer's show)

Here's a nice tribute column he wrote:

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/mazer ... -1.1494738

Author:  rejoice1 [ Thu Nov 07, 2013 1:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: RIP Bill Mazer

Another part of my childhood gone.

I basically remember Mr. Mazer from the Sports-extra segments he did every Sunday night on the old WNEW , as well as the nightly segments he did on the same station. Before he did his weeknight sports report, he would field a question from the Anchorman on the 10:00 news(I think it may have been a mailed in question) . Almost without fail, he would nail the answer, then look at the camera with a whimsical smile on his face as if to say, "better luck next time, greater New York".

A young lady who attended the same place of worship I did on Long Island was a camera -person at WNEW for a time and did the 10:00 news shift. Just a couple of days before she got married, Mr. Mazer acknowledged her by name right before he did his sports round-up

A class individual and part of a breed of sports-media that is all but gone...

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