When I was a kid, someone gave me a sports book, probably 1966’s, The Sports Answer Book: from Bill Mazer’s NBC Challenge round. I wasn’t very pro sports-oriented, but I think they realized that I was book-oriented, and hoped to spur my interest that way. Mazer hosted a NYC sports talk show called Firing Line, and was renowned for knowing a lot of stats.
Mazer’s book was wide-ranging and very conversational, and I still remember a lot of random facts and a few stories. Talking about boxing, he said someone once asked him what made a good boxer. “Poverty,” was his reply. He explained that you never heard of a rich kid fighting his way up – they were always the Irish, the Italians, the Puerto Ricans, the blacks – whatever ethnic minority was struggling to gain a foothold.
We had left Long Island by then, so I never actually heard Mazer on the radio. But when Iistening to the almost ubiquitous sports chat these days, I often remember some snippet from Bill Mazer’s book.
When Mr. Mazer retired in 2009, he had spent more than 60 years in broadcasting — 20 of them as a nightly sports anchor and the host of the weekend roundup “Sports Extra” on WNEW-TV, Channel 5. Before then he had been a host of sports-talk radio when the very idea of the format was new.