Remembering Jim McKayPosted: June 8, 2008
I had the distinct privilege of meeting Jim McKay. It was more than 25 years ago, in the early 1980s, when I was a 20-something sports writer, working the desk and writing a TV-Radio sports column for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.
McKay was in South Florida, perhaps to cover a golf tournament or the Florida Derby. I met him in a hotel lobby on the Galt Ocean Mile, and he was a wonderful interview. He talked of ABC’s Wide World of Sports, and the Summer and Winter Olympics, the British Open at St. Andrew’s or Carnoustie, the Masters, the great horse races and so many other big events McKay covered.
What a story teller. We were scheduled for a half hour, but Jim McKay gave me more than an hour of his time on that Saturday morning. I had more than enough material for a column and beyond. I’ll never forget it
The defining moment of McKay’s career, of course, came during the 1972 Munich Olympics when a Palestinian terrorist organization called the Black September group kidnapped 11 Israeli athletes. After a commando rescue attempt ended terribly, McKay reported simply but so eloquently with three words: “They’re all gone.”
ABC estimated McKay traveled 4 1/2 million miles on assignment for ”Wide World,” covering 40 countries. Ironically he died hours before Big Brown failed in his attempt to complete the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes in McKay’s favorite sport of all, horse racing. McKay called the last Triple Crown in 1978 when Affirmed edged Alydar at the wire in the Belmont.