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Friday, January 1, 2010

The Bingo Bar Blog Pays Tribute to a Legend

Merry new year. Here at the Bingo Bar Blog we are off today however with the Winter Classic going on it we felt the need to pay tribute to in my opinion the greatest sports broadcaster of all time...Fred Cusick.(who passed away this year) So here it is with a foreword by Bolando. Enjoy the new year and tribute!

Toasting to a Legend

After 30 years of watching sports, it's safe to say, broadcasting has changed. While there are still the homers and granstanders, it seems like everyone is trying to be as bodacious as Howard Cosell or come up with the next "Do you believe in miracles" quote ala Al Michaels. Although there are some good play-by-play guys today, it seems that even they are striving to achieve something more -- They are all trying to broadcast the game of the century or call the play of the season. When in fact, they over-react to a play, a game, a moment - to the point that they become the show.

When Fred Cusick died, a piece of true broadcasting died with it. Cusick was never bigger than the game he called. He never seemed to striving to call the greatest moment ever. No, Cusick called the game. Hockey by nature is really an exciting game. It is fast, physical, and with only 5-6 goals a game, the big moments are sporadic. But everytime someone wound up for a shot, the excitement in his voice would charge up, as though the opportunity for one of those 5 moments was about to occur. And while he called Bruins games, it always seemed like the excitement existed when both teams shot the puck, or when either goalie made that stonewall save.

Today, broadcasters are more like story tellers than play by play guys. There are storylines and background pieces on how Jean-Claude Chevalier grew up on the outskirts of Winnipeg with a stick he carved out of a tree he chopped down on his mom and dad's farm. I can't decide if there is pressure from the stations to over-dramatize or if it's the individuals who are trying to make themselves bigger than the moment. Rather than letting the moment take care of itself.

What made Kirk Gibson's homerun against Dennis Eckersley great was the situation and circumstances at hand -- the fact that Jack Buck cried out "I don't believe what I just saw..." after he hit it -- is simply an accessory to the moment.

Cusick was the ultimate accessory -- and while that may seem like a back-handed compliment -- they are not the stars of the show -- it's like a referree or umpire who takes over a game -- the best compliment you can give a referree is you didn't even know his name. The same goes for a broadcaster. Cusick never, ever did that -- "Shot! Save!" Even when the shot was wide -- "Shot! Wide of the Net!" - He was the drummer who kept the beat of the game and kept the rhythm going -- but he never tried to dive into a 10 minute drum solo like so many of today's broadcasters attempt. Just call the game, buddy. The real fan doesn't need to know that his mother was a former figure skater and his father defected from the Iron Curtain in 1975 after playing for the Russian National team and they fell in love at Niagara Falls.

If you watched the Bruins - you know exactly what I'm talking about. My favorite moment for Fred Cusick is pretty simple and easy to point out.

The final night of the Boston Garden was an exhibition game between the Bruins and Montreal. And the Bruins rolled out EVERYONE -- right down to Norman Levelliere -- you're talking 70 years of hockey history -- an original 6 team -- in between periods, they had a big ceremony celebrating the history of the Bruins -- Eddie Shore, Bobby Bauer, Milt Scmidt, Bucyk, Esposito, Cheevers, O'Reilly, etc... and they all got their respective applauses -- But the guy who got perhaps the biggest, and longest and most genuine -- maybe even bigger than God (Bobby Orr) was Fred Cusick. It was the ultimate thank you. Because all those people in the stands were the same people watching the Bruins for the past 25 years, listening to Cusick. This was their opportunity to thank him. You could hear their appreciation and you could see his as he acknowledged the crowd.

"He shoots!"


Sometimes simple is beautiful...

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