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Biofile Bob Costas Interview

By Scoop Malinowski
Status: Sports broadcaster.

DOB: March 22, 1952  In: Queens, NY

Childhood Heroes:  Baseball hero – Mickey Mantle. Also I liked Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Sandy Koufax.

Hobbies/Interests:  Reading. Movies, especially old movies. Hanging out with my kids.

Favorite Movies:  Casablanca. King Kong. Double Indemnity. Shane. Duck Soup. Yankee Doodle Dandy.  High Noon. On The Waterfront.

All Time Favorite TV Shows:  The Honeymooners. Late Night With David Letterman. Seinfeld. As a kid I loved The Rifleman. 

First Job:  Newspaperboy, New York Daily News. I grew up on Long Island. Before delivering papers at 5 am, I’d read Dick Young’s column.

Childhood Dream:  Centerfielder for the New York Yankees. I realized I couldn’t be Mickey Mantle but maybe I could be like (legendary baseball announcer) Mel Allen.

Early Broadcasting Career Memory:  Well, I did about no TV until I came to NBC in 1980. In St. Louis I was known as a radio guy. I hadn’t been at NBC very long when David Letterman debuted in the late night after Carson (in 1982) and staged elevator races. I think Dave had been on about a month. They needed someone to do mock play-by-play. I guess they were looking for Marv Albert or Dick Enberg, someone who was famous at that point. And none of the them were around. And I was literally just sitting in the sports office when the call came. I think Dave introduced me as “Bob Costa” the first time. He had no idea who I was. The bit was pretty funny and they asked me to come back up and sit down at the end of the show and sit on a panel. And then he brought me back as a guest a few weeks after that. So that was a pretty heady experience. You get off a line and you hear Letterman’s audience laughing. And you hear Letterman laughing. That felt pretty good.

Greatest Career Moment: I would say hosting – it’s not a single moment but it’s kind of a period of time – hosting the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. It was just a great personal and professional experience. It was the first Olympics for which I was the main host. And the way in which we covered those Games and the response to the telecast, the way it was received, it was very gratifying.

Most Painful Moment: I guess when NBC lost baseball the first time in the late 1980s. I was younger then and baseball meant a great deal to me. Now sports properties changing hands is so commonplace that you just accept it and roll with the punches. Baseball had, up until then, seemed like a birthright for NBC. And being involved in the Saturday ‘Game Of The Week’ package was really a wonderful thing. And when we lost that I was very disappointed. Not because it hurt my career – it didn’t hurt my career – it was just that I liked baseball so much that it was disappointing not to be able to broadcast it again. Eventually we got it back like five or six years later but under different circumstances. The television package had changed and the game had changed drastically by then. So it was never the same after that.

Favorite Interviews:  The most thoughtful person in sports that I encountered was Arthur Ashe. The funniest was Jim Valvano. Ted Williams exuded presence and mystique. Jim Brown is controversial and interesting. Same with John McEnroe. Away from sports – Elie Weisel, Martin Scorcese – fascinating. Paul Simon and Bruce Springsteen give thoughtful answers. Seinfeld, George Carlin – very good. Mel Brooks and Richard Lewis – hilarious. 

Favorite Meal:  Bratwurst with “secret stadium sauce” in Milwaukee. Elsewhere – pizza at Patsy Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn. I’ve never had less than six pieces. You just don’t eat the next day.

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:  Pistachio at Ted Drewes Frozen Custard stand in St. Louis.

People Qualities Most Admired:  Generosity. Perspective. Wit. Dignity. Subtlety. Class. 

Education: Syracuse University. Career Accomplishments: 28 Emmy Awards; Prime-time host for NBC Sports for 12 Olympic Games 1988-2016; NBC Sports 1980-2019; currently works for MLB Network. 

About Mark Malinowski

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