By John Cirillo
I received an email reply to an invitation sent to Rich Ackerman, the CBS Sports Radio football guru, update anchor and top-flight play by play man. Unable to attend an “invitation only” shindig, he said: “In the words of Marv, ‘sorry but I have a game.’”
“The Ack,” of course, was referring to the customary and classic response of one Marv Albert, play-by-play man supreme, who during the zenith of his career was calling both Knicks and Rangers games, anchoring local sports on WNBC Channel 4, and then added NBC Sports NBA games to his repertoire.
Marv-elous actually wrote a book entitled: “I’d love to but I have a game,” published in 1993, which is a look at the acclaimed sports announcer’s many decades of broadcasting, documenting zany travels within.
Among those who have literally taken a page from Albert’s book include: Mike Breen, who paints the word picture on MSG Network’s Knicks broadcasts while doubling up as the Voice of the NBA on ABC/ESPN; Nets television voice Ian Eagle, who bookends those Brooklyn NBA games on the YES Network with national broadcasts of both the NFL and NCAA on CBS; Michael Kay’s daily double headers hosting drive time sports talk on ESPN NY 98.7 Radio and calling Yankees games on YES (sometimes triple headers plugging in an episode or two of the marvelous Center Stage program);
young Ryan Ruocco is the newest member of the crew with YES Network Nets and Yanks games and studio hosting, ESPN televised NBA games, not to mention work at ESPN NY 98.7 FM Radio; and of course Marv’s son Kenny Albert, a chip off the old block, indeed, as the Rangers radio play by play man, back up to Breen on Knicks television, national hockey broadcasts on NBC Sports, and NFL and MLB games on FOX Sports – now that’s a mouthful!
And then there’s Bob Heussler, who takes a back seat to no one on play-by-play delivery nor the packed calendar.
“Mr. Met,” as he was dubbed by Mike Francesa and Christopher Russo on the “Mike & The Mad Dog” radio decades ago because of his affinity for the Amazins’, is in the throes of what will be a 51 straight days/61 of 63 days work load through March 3 that includes his chores as update anchor on WFAN Radio, Fairfield Stags play by play on WVOF Radio with sidekick Joe DeSantis, simulcast on occasion on SNY, fill-in for Chris Carrino on the FAN’s Nets radio broadcasts, and when spring arrives calling WNBA Connecticut Sun games. By the way, he ‘audaciously’ (my word, tongue in cheek) took off on New Year’s Day and stole a day later in January to celebrate his lady friend’s birthday.
“My schedule is no big deal, it’s the business,” says Heussler matter-of-factly. “Thankfully, we all really love what we do.”
Thankfully, indeed! So, friends, please don’t feel badly when the reply to the invitation is “I’d love to, but I have a game.”