He was best known for his voice over on ABC's Wide World of Sports but he will be forever remembered for his calm and professional demeanor when he annouced that 11 Israeli athletes were dead at a Munich airport in 1972 at an Olympic games that gave us stars such as Mark Spitz and Nadia Comenci.
Jim McKay, the voice of "Wide World of Sports" and the Olympic games died Saturday of natural causes at his farm in Monkton, Maryland at age 86.
McKay was not just a sportscaster, he was a storyteller. He was like having your grandfather tell you about the greatest athletes to play any sport and you wanted to listen. He put a human touch on each story he ever told, whether it was the star runner going for their ninth gold medal or a runner from some country that we never heard of that didn't have a chance to win. He put a face on the story and made that story come to ife. It was "Wide World of Sports" that built ABC Sports into a powerhouse after its debut in 1961. ABC estimated McKay traveled 4½ million miles on assignment for "Wide World," covering 40 countries. That's a lot of frequent flyer miles. Former Indy car racer A.J. Foyt said of McKay, "He didn't ask stupid questions." McKay, who won 12 Emmy awards for sports writing, won his first Emmy in 1968. He was not only present for the tragedy in Munich, he was also present for America's finest moment in sports when he was at Lake Placid to witness the "Miracle on Ice."
One other thing about McKay. He loved the Baltimore Orioles and was a minority owner of the American League team. Owner Peter Angelos said that McKay "was a visionary and a pioneer of sports broadcasting who never forgot where he came from, or his Maryland roots." The New York Yankees had a moment of silence for him.
Curt Gowdy, who was also a part of ABC, hosting "The American Sportsman" said "When you think of the Olympic Games on television, you think of Jim McKay."
The man who uttered three words, "They're all gone" has passed. Jim McKay was a class act. His voice is stilled and America and the world misses him. Rest well, friend.