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Sports Weekend | TV / RADIO

Nation Gets McGwire, L.A. Gets Angels

September 11, 1998|LARRY STEWART

Ready for another dose of Mark McGwire?

Well, don't get too excited.

Fox is televising the St. Louis Cardinals' game Saturday at Houston, with the Astros' Randy Johnson pitching against McGwire, to 69% of the country, but not Los Angeles.

We get the Angels at Baltimore at 10 a.m. instead.

You can't really fault Fox this time. Let's not forget, the Angels are in a division race.

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Everyone is talking about the resurgence of baseball, but "Monday Night Football" on ABC still got a better national rating than McGwire's record-breaking performance Tuesday night on Fox, 14.8 to 12.9.

What else can baseball do?

And a 14.8 is only a mediocre football rating.

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For Joe Buck, the Fox play-by-play announcer who called McGwire's record home run, things didn't quite work out as planned.

"While in bed looking at the ceiling I pretty much figured out what I was going to say," he said.

He said he planned to say something like: "There it goes, here it is. Your new single-season home run champion Mark McGwire with 62 as he floats around the bases and into the history books!"

So what happens?

"He hits his shortest home run of the season, and it's all over so fast," Buck said. "It was a script buster. Everything went down the drain."

Buck settled for: "Down the left-field line, is it enough? Gone! There it is, 62. Touch first, Mark, you are the new single-season home run king!"

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It was good to hear Ernie Banks, who knows a lot about the topic, talking about sportsmanship on ABC's "Nightline" and Fox Sports Net's "The Last Word." He and McGwire make great ambassadors for baseball.

Channel 4's Fred Roggin on Tuesday night had a nice interview with Rod Dedeaux, McGwire's coach at USC, and dug up a 1989 interview he did with a much- younger-looking McGwire.

Cardinal Manager Tony La Russa was on "Up Close" Wednesday with Chris Myers and talked about flying to Florida for his 84-year-old mother Oliva's funeral after Monday's game and hustling back for Tuesday's game. La Russa wasn't going to return that soon, but his father encouraged him to go.

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Did you notice that ESPN, for its highlights of McGwire's feat on "SportsCenter" Tuesday night, used WGN footage instead of Fox?

The ESPN-Fox rivalry is heating up.

ESPN this week noted that in some markets, such as San Francisco and Arizona, "Fox Sports News" could not cover the postgame ceremony in St. Louis live because of local telecasts on Fox regional networks.

"We showed that we are the true national voice of sports news," ESPN executive editor John Walsh told Associated Press. "Our competition showed last night that they are not a national service."

THESE ICONS STILL TICKING

Stu Nahan, 72, retired from doing weeknight sports for Channel 5 a year ago and now does only weekend commentaries for the station, but he says anyone who thinks he has hung up his microphone is mistaken.

"I had worked five nights a week in television for 42 years," Nahan said. "I figured that was enough. But that doesn't mean I've retired."

Nahan, who lives in Studio City with wife Sandy, a psychotherapist with clinics in Encino and Beverly Hills, was an L.A. sports anchor for three decades, 1968-98. He still knows just about everyone in the L.A. sports scene and he knows hockey, the sport he once played, as well as anyone.

Surely, he'd make a nice fit somewhere.

Another L.A. sports icon is Bud Furillo, who turned 73 on Aug. 19 and has been doing a daily 4-6 p.m. sports radio talk show for KPSI in Palm Springs for 5 1/2 years. "I love it here," Furillo said. "I've never been happier."

This year marks Furillo's 50th in sports. He started at the old Los Angeles Herald Express in 1948, was sports editor of the Herald Examiner from 1964 to '74, and did talk radio in the '70s and '80s for KABC and KIIS.

Furillo, who lives in Palm Desert with his dog, Rip, does his KPSI show with partner Steve Kelly from Big League Dreams in Cathedral City, one of the finest youth sports complexes in the country. Co-owner Rick Odekirk said he is tentatively planning a bash for this fall to mark Furillo's 50 years in sports.

If even a fraction of the people Furillo knows show up, it would be quite an affair.

SHORT WAVES

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