Few sports broadcasters can match the energy and stamina of the legendary
Jim McKay. He was the first reporter to be both seen and heard in Baltimore, the
first to receive an Emmy for his reporting and the first sports broadcaster to enter
the People’s Republic of China during the isolationism period. With a lifetime filled
with firsts, McKay easily tops the list of most celebrated sports broadcasters of all
Jim McKay got his start in Baltimore as a news reporter for the Evenin’ Sun
and then was invited to be the first on-air personality when the city launched their
first broadcast television station. He pioneered American broadcasting from a small
Baltimore television station, but this was only the beginning for young McKay.
A move to New York would prove to be the change he needed to launch his
career. After a few short stints as journalist, broadcaster and even a weatherman,
McKay was offered the opportunity to host his own sports show. Wide World of
Sports would become the longest lasting sports show of all time spanning more than
three decades with McKay as the host.
During his years as a sports broadcaster, Jim McKay also reported from 12
different Olympics. Perhaps his most famous Olympic report was during the 1972
games in Munich. Tragedy struck these games in what was later to be called
the “Munich Massacre” where 11 athletes were killed. On this particular day, McKay
was supposed to have a day off. As news spread, he rushed to the city center to
begin his broadcast. For 16 hours, Jim McKay was the only voice America had
reporting on the devastation. Committed to his duty, McKay had rushed out of his
hotel swimming pool and completed the entire report with his swimming trunks
under his suit.
In 2008, Jim McKay passed away in his home in Monkton, Maryland. He left
behind his daughter, son and wife of 65 years. In tribute, acclaimed journalist John
Feinstein said, “ His are shoes that can’t be filled”.