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February 27, 2001|LARRY STEWART

What: "Dick Schaap's Flashing Before My Eyes"

Where: ESPN Classic, tonight, 6 and 10

First came Dick Schaap's autobiography, "Flashing Before My Eyes." Now comes this one-hour television special based on the book, with Schaap serving as the host and narrator.

You don't have to be a Schaap fan to enjoy it. Nor do you have to be a sports fan, because not all the stories are about sports. Much of the special is devoted to Schaap's career as a New York journalist and includes memorable footage of major news events.

For instance, in the 1960s, Schaap went to Mississippi to cover the murders of three civil rights workers, and he was in Los Angeles to cover the Watts riots.

But of course there are plenty of stories involving some of the biggest names and biggest events in sports.

Schaap, an avid Brooklyn Dodger fan as a youngster, recalls that he wanted to kill Bobby Thomson after his home run in 1951 put the New York Giants in the World Series and knocked the Dodgers out. He also wanted to kill the Dodgers' Ralph Branca, who gave up the home run. Today, Thomson and Branca are friends of Schaap. The special includes footage of Schaap and his wife enjoying a night out with Branca and his wife at Schaap's favorite restaurant, Rao's in East Harlem.

Author Mitch Albom sums up Schaap: "He has walked with kings, ridden shotgun with legends, dined with the power elite and gotten drunk with some of the biggest sports stars of our time. And what he comes away with is not a swelled head, an inflated sense of his own importance, or a need to lecture the world with an opinion much richer than ours. What he comes away with are stories."

The stories made for a good book. They do the same for this TV show.

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