To: David Letterman
From: Curran's Curran
Subject: The Dizzy Awards
Dear David: Yes, TV needs the Dizzy Awards, which go to the sportscasters who make the most memorable gaffes each year. Usually the gaffes come when they are talking at a time when blessed silence would be appreciated.
The award should be named for the late Dizzy Dean, who, when criticized for grammatical lapses, gave an answer many current announcers and analysts would like to give. It was, "Some of the people who ain't sayin' 'ain't' these days ain't eatin' much, either."
If we can judge the future by the past, there will be no shortage of candidates for the awards. Consider some nominees from the past . . .
Frank Gifford. Jim Brady of Ad Age was fascinated when, in his introduction to the 1987 Pro Bowl, the Giffer said there would also be coverage of the America's Cup, and then in one sentence got the name of the Australian boat wrong, the score of the races wrong, and renamed Dennis Conner "O'Conner."
Ralph Kiner. Bob Hertzel of the Pittsburgh Press recalls that people were surprised last summer when, in talking about Riverfront Stadium, which was built in 1970, Ralph said, "Baseball began right here in this very stadium back in 1869."
Jeff Asch: The host of a sports talk show on Philadelphia radio intrigued listeners in 1987 when he said the media had overlooked the father-son angle in the Syracuse football situation. It wasn't often, he noted, that the head coach of a leading power was the father of the star quarterback.
Coach Dick MacPherson, who is white, and quarterback Don McPherson, who is black, also spell their names differently.
Ara Parseghian: Before the 1986 Miami-Florida State football game, the former Notre Dame coach observed that the Seminoles "would have to outscore the Hurricanes if they expect to win." The 'Canes heeded the warning and won the game.
Jerry Girard of WPIX News in New York City. During a promotional spot during a Yankees telecast, Girard got horse players excited with the words, "After the game, Yankee highlights, the Mets are in L.A. to play the Dodgers, and tomorrow's racing results."
Chris Schenkel: Schenkel has evidently never seen the film "The Fighting 69th," in which Jeffrey Lynn portrays poet Sgt. Joyce Kilmer. It plays on a New York City station at least once a month. If Schenkel had seen it, he would not have observed, while watching a campus scene during a college football game, that Joyce Kilmer must have had a picture like this in mind "when she wrote 'Trees.' "
Jerry Coleman: The Padres announcer is usually a candidate to watch. One memorable number of the 1988 season came when he said, "Gene Michael's treading on thin water."
Pat Summerall. Another possible candidate. In his book "Strictly Speaking," Edwin Newman wrote, "At the 1974 Super Bowl Pat Summerall, in search of a more analytical explanation, attributed the success of the Miami Dolphins' defense to their having 'so many different variations,' leaving us to suppose that the Minnesota Vikings' defense failed because their variations were uniform."
Irv Cross. The football analyst stunned folks in Alaska and Hawaii a few years back by saying that a certain happening was of interest to Americans in "all of our 48 states."
Joe Namath. After getting the name of a pro football team's home city wrong in '88, Namath was advised by a Colts fan's poster that the big race on Memorial Day "is not the Baltimore 500."