Speakeasy of Everything…an excerpt from Mark Ribowsky’s new book on Howard Cosell.
During the 1984 American League Championship Series between the Detroit Tigers and the Kansas City Royals, Cosell and play-by-play man Al Michaels took to sniping at each other, though what viewers didn’t know was that Cosell had been drinking during the game. After Michaels disagreed with a point he made, believing Cosell’s explanation of a baseball strategy “made no sense,” Cosell waited until after the game before telling the even then respected announcer that he would never be a good broadcaster until he “learned to take a stand,” implying the latter was too soft on tough issues and on players and owners. Michaels, who personally liked Cosell, snapped back, “You’re drunk?.?.?. You’re ruining the ####### telecast,” adding, “You ever come in like that again, I’m not gonna work with you.” Needing a good stiff belt himself, he then went into the press room and asked for a large vodka. The apologetic bartender poured the glass only a quarter full—all Cosell had left him.
...In the end, Spence made the call: Cosell would not be used for the World Series, played between Gussie Busch’s Cardinals and the cross-state Kansas City Royals. His place as analyst would be taken by Tim McCarver, the former Cardinals and Phillies catcher who was moved up from working as a roving grandstand reporter. McCarver was a personable, keenly perceptive, and articulate man who broke Cosell’s stereotypical “dumb jock” mold, and with his entrance as a full-time color analyst, few mourned or noticed Cosell’s exit.
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