SBD/July 17, 2017/People and Pop Culture

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  • Legendary Sportscaster, Baseball HOFer Bob Wolff Passes Away At The Age Of 96

    Legendary sportscaster BOB WOLFF, who worked for a "record-setting eight decades as a sports broadcaster," died on Saturday in South Nyack, N.Y., at the age of 96, according to Richard Goldstein of the N.Y. TIMES. Wolff called DON LARSEN's perfect game for the Yankees in the '56 World Series, the Giants’ overtime loss in the '58 NFL championship game and the Knicks’ two title runs. Wolff was cited by Guinness World Records in '12 as having the "longest career of any sports broadcaster." He started out in '39 while a student and former baseball player at Duke, "broadcasting games on a local CBS radio station." He "teamed with JOE GARAGIOLA" on NBC’s baseball Game of the Week in the early '60s. He was a broadcaster for MSG for "more than 50 years on staff and as a freelancer." Wolff was inducted into the broadcasting wing of the Baseball HOF in '95 (N.Y. TIMES, 7/17). In N.Y., John Healy notes Wolff was also "enshrined" in the National Sportscasters-Sportswriters HOF and the MSG Walk of Fame. He was the recipient of the CURT GOWDY media award from the Pro Basketball HOF in '08, joining Gowdy as the "only two sportscasters to be in both the basketball and the baseball halls." Wolff "served in the Navy as a supply officer in the Pacific during World War II" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/17). Also in N.Y., Don Burke notes Wolff has won two Emmys and has also "held the distinction of being the first broadcaster to handle play-by-play for championships in all four major professional sports" (N.Y. POST, 7/17).

    ONE OF A KIND: In DC, Bob Levey notes Wolff "wrote three books, appeared as a local radio and TV sportscaster in Washington and New York, and found time to be the announcer for the annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show" for more than 30 years. He once "estimated that he had covered more than 11,000 sporting events and that he had spent more than eight days of his life standing for the playing of the national anthem." Wolff’s broadcasting style was "unadorned and uninflected, and he often said he belonged to the less-is-more school." Unlike many younger sportscasters, he "never developed a signature call or a series of Wolff-isms" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/17). On Long Island, Neil Best writes Wolff "seemed to have a great deal of fun doing it, approaching a dream job as if it all were a happy dream, making friends across several generations of athletes, coaches, executives, fans and colleagues" (NEWSDAY, 7/17). Former Mets beat writer KEVIN CZERWINSKI said, "Bob was one of the nicest, classiest guys I had the privilege of knowing. I've always likened him to an East Coast version of VIN SCULLY" (Westchester JOURNAL NEWS, 7/17).

    TWITTER REAXNewsday's Best tweeted, "Heck of a run. ... one of nicest guys in sports media." GQ's Keith Olbermann: "My privilege to have worked NYY Old Timers' Day with Bob for 10 years. No one was better prepared; no one was nicer." N.Y. Post's Mike Vaccaro: "Godspeed, Bob Wolff, who proved for 70 years it was possible to be a Hall of Fame gentlemen as well as a Hall of Fame broadcaster." News 12 Long Island's Kevin Maher: "There are not many men who can say they interviewed Babe Ruth and Derek Jeter, but Bob Wolff was one of them." N.Y.-based WNBC-TV's Bruce Beck: "At @MSGNetworks in 1982, Bob Wolff took me under his wing. He was a great mentor, a super broadcaster & a wonderful man. RIP Bob."

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  • Former Masters, Augusta Chair Hootie Johnson Dies, Leaving Complicated Legacy

    Johnson is credited with altering 14 of the 18 holes at Augusta National

    Former Masters Tournament Chair & Augusta National Golf Club Chair HOOTIE JOHNSON "died Friday morning" at 86, according to John Boyette of the AUGUSTA CHRONICLE. During his tenure, 14 of the 18 holes were "altered as Augusta National led the charge against advances in golf ball and club technology." Johnson also "modified the qualifications for invitation to the tournament, initiated 18-hole television coverage and began the practice of announcing the club’s donations to charity." But it was his response to National Council of Women's Organizations Chair MARTHA BURK that "thrust him into the national spotlight" in the summer of '02. Burk "challenged Augusta National’s all-male membership, and Johnson responded with a terse, three-paragraph reply and issued a statement to the media that outlined the club’s position." He famously said that the private club would "not change at the 'point of a bayonet.'" Johnson was succeeded in '06 by current Chair BILLY PAYNE, who in '12 "ushered in the club’s first two female members." Payne in a statement said, "He boldly directed numerous course improvements to ensure that Augusta National would always represent the very finest test of golf" (AUGUSTA CHRONICLE, 7/15).

    COMPLICATED LEGACY: In Augusta, Scott Michaux wrote Johnson "deserves a warmer legacy." His "deepest impact" was as the man who "oversaw the most sweeping changes in the history of the Masters Tournament to become its most important steward" since founding Chair CLIFFORD ROBERTS. Augusta National’s "most liberal and progressive leader took it upon himself to make some of the toughest decisions on behalf of the tournament’s future in an era of technological advances" (AUGUSTA CHRONICLE, 7/15). ESPN's Paul Finebaum said of Johnson's handling of the Burk protest, "It was a sideshow that Hootie should have avoided. He made a terrible mistake in saying what he did. ... You can't look at Hootie Johnson's career without that in the first line of the obituary. It's sad because he was a great man and he did a lot, but that's what he is being remembered for" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 7/16). The AP's Doug Ferguson wrote Johnson "stubbornly stood his ground amid pressure for the club to invite female members." He went so far as to "drop the Masters’ television sponsors -- IBM, Coca-Cola and Citigroup -- to keep them out of the fray." That led to the "first commercial-free broadcast of a sporting event on network television." Burk: "What I have to say, and I thought this for years, is it’s really a shame that he engaged in the Augusta controversy the way he did" (AP, 7/14).

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  • Barstool Sports CEO Erika Nardini Discusses Leadership Style, Advice For Recent Grads

    Barstool Sports CEO ERIKA NARDINI yesterday was profiled in the N.Y. TIMES' "Corner Office" feature, noting she was "not prepared for how lonely" the job was. Nardini, in her first CEO role, said, "But I like that the buck stops with me, and that I'm accountable." Other excerpts are below.

    On her leadership style: "I’m punishing. I have a large ability to grind. If I want something or if I believe in something or I think something should be done better, I will push and push until I exhaust people. I really value stamina and drive. I am bad with stagnation and complacency. It’s not just about winning, but did we do everything possible to make something happen?"

    On Barstool's content being "very bro-ish": "I think 'bro-ish' is a convenient stereotype. Barstool Sports is far more layered than that. Does a fraction of our content feature girls? Yes. Are those the pieces I gravitate toward? No. But I’m not the editorial voice; I’m not the target audience. I respect that I’m neither of those things. I’m proud to work for a brand that knows itself and what its audience wants. It’s a rare thing."

    On how she makes hires: "I’m a horrible interviewer. I’m impatient. To have a great hire, you need to spend a lot of time with that person and you need to see them in different settings."

    On advice she would give to recent college graduates: "Take a job that makes them uncomfortable and that they feel unqualified for. It’s really great to feel uncomfortable, and you change so much as a person from that" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/16).

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  • Executive Transactions

    The Knicks promoted GM STEVE MILLS to President and named Kings Exec VP/Basketball Operations SCOTT PERRY GM (Knicks)....The Broncos named Learfield VP/National Sales DAN HAWLEY Senior Dir of Corporate Partnerships (THE DAILY)....Outdoor Sportsman Group promoted World Fishing Network VP & GM SEAN LUXTON to Senior VP & GM (THE DAILY)....Seton Hall promoted the following: CHRISTOPHER CARL to Associate AD/Marketing; THOMAS CHEN to Associate AD/Digital Media & Communications; BRIAN CONNOR to Assistant AD/Equipment Operations; CAMERON HARTY to Assistant AD/Facilities & Operations; JAY JUDGE to Associate AD/Development; ALEX KEDDIE Associate AD/Compliance; LOREN PETERSON to Associate AD/Business Affairs; and ROBERTO SASSO to Associate AD/Student-Athlete Development (Seton Hall)....East Carolina Univ. named North Carolina State Student Aid Associate Exec Dir PHILLIP WOOD Senior Associate AD (ECU).


    Do you have an executive announcement? If so, please send to editorial@sportsbusinessdaily.com.


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  • Names In The News

    Prince Williams and Princess Kate watched yesterday's men's final from the royal box

    There are only 74 seats in the royal box at Wimbledon, and invitations "arrive two to three months before the tournament." There is a "dress code: jackets and ties for men, and no skirts or dresses ending above the knee for women." Tennis Channel Chair & CEO KEN SOLOMON said it is a "cross section of the most interesting people who are in the U.K. at that moment." This year, Lagardère’s DONALD DELL said that he sat with golfer ERNIE ELS and London Times Editor JOHN WITHEROWPRINCE WILLIAM and PRINCESS KATE watched yesterday's men's final from the royal box, as did U.K. Prime Minister THERESA MAY and PRINCE ALBERT II of Monaco. Actors BRADLEY COOPER, HUGH GRANT and EDDIE REDMAYNE also attended (N.Y. TIMES, 7/17).

    JUST DOING IT: Nike Chair, President & CEO MARK PARKER was paid $47.6M last year, making him the "highest-paid public-company executive in the Northwest." Parker's compensation increased 183%, thanks to a $30M stock grant by the company's BOD. The BOD "granted the award because of Nike's performance under Parker and their desire" to keep him on the job for a few more years (SEATTLE TIMES, 7/16)....Nike co-Founder & Chair Emeritus PHIL KNIGHT "recently gave a rare interview with the Harvard Business Review." Knight discussed late Nike co-Founder BILL BOWERMAN's "obsessive tinkering with athletic shoes and lofty standards." He also touched on Nike's "ill-fated effort to bring in an outside CEO" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 7/14).

    ROUND MOUND OF PANELISTS: CHARLES BARKLEY was “invited to appear” last week at Allen & Co.’s Sun Valley Conference. Barkley’s invite came through NBC’s TOM BROKAW, who is an “old pal.” Barkley was asked to “participate on a panel discussion Tuesday, where he got a chance to talk about his ‘mission’ of narrowing the gap between America’s rich and poor.” Since leaving the conference Barkley has “received a couple of texts” from PRESIDENT TRUMP’s son-in-law, JARED KUSHNER. Barkley said, “He said he really appreciated the speech and wanted to know if we could sit down and talk” (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/16).

    THE GOOD STUFF: Pistons coach STAN VAN GUNDY is "throwing his support behind Men's Wearhouse's national suit drive for the month of July." The goal is to "provide professional attire to men trying to re-enter the work force" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 7/15)....Panthers RB CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY and Dick's Sporting Goods on Friday gave a group of 15 children from Charlotte Youth Football a $150 shopping spree to kick off Dick's first "Celebrate Youth Sports Weekend" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 7/15).

    NAMES: Lightning Owner JEFF VINIK is “one of four anonymous lenders who helped refinance the Tampa Bay Times” (POYNTER.com, 7/14)....Former MLBer PRINCE FIELDER’s new passion is his TV show “FIELDER’S CHOICE.” His agent, SCOTT BORAS, makes a guest appearance, as well as Yankees P C.C. SABATHIA and Baseball HOFer KEN GRIFFEY JR. (DALLASNEWS.com, 7/13)....Former MLBer MARK MULDER yesterday won the American Century Championships celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe for the “third straight year.”  Former MLBer DEREK LOWE tied for second with former tennis player MARDY FISH, while Warriors G STEPHEN CURRY finished fourth (RGJ.com, 7/16)....Fox MLB analyst ALEX RODRIGUEZ has partnered with TruFusion, a chain of “group fitness studios offering classes, many in high temperatures, that include pilates, yoga, fitness boot camp and cycling.” Rodriguez has “bought the rights to all TruFusion studios in his home state of Florida.” Rodriguez will serve on the company’s BOD (REVIEWJOURNAL.com, 7/14)....Rockets G JAMES HARDEN recently hosted a "two-day camp for kids” in East Valley, Ariz., “staying grounded in a community that helped raise him as he gets ready to face the most scrutiny of his career" (AZCENTRAL.com, 7/15)....Ex-financial adviser CHARLES BANKS, who defrauded former NBAer TIM DUNCAN out of $7.5M, has been “sentenced to four years in prison” after pleading guilty to wire fraud in April (BIZJOURNALS.com, 7/16).

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