CBS to debut In Your Life doc on Verne Lundquist's career Saturday
For professional admirers of CBS Sports broadcaster Verne Lundquist -- and I readily admit I am in the tank for him -- here’s a film that should be very fun.
CBS will air Saturday (1:30 p.m. ET) In Your Life, a one-hour documentary celebrating Lundquist’s 50 years in broadcasting. Filmmakers trailed Lundquist for a year, and the footage includes interviews with friends, family and the athletes Lundquist has covered, along with clips of his most memorable calls, from Auburn cornerback Chris Davis’s Kick-Six return in last year’s epic Iron Bowl to Lundquist’s “Yes, Sir” after Jack Nicklaus’ birdie on the 17th hole at the 1986 Masters to Christian Laettner hitting his last-second shot to beat Kentucky in the 1992 NCAA tournament.
“After they announced the film, which I am thrilled with, my spotter, Chuck Gardner, who has been with me for 20 years, looked at me and said, “This does not mean more than it should, does it?” said Lundquist, 74. “I said not all. I am here for as long as CBS wants me to be here and I will be here until [CBS Sports coordinating producer] Craig Silver and [CBS Sports Chairman] Sean McManus and my wife [Nancy] say otherwise. They will all have a say when it is exit, stage left, and it is not yet.”
Lundquist made his broadcasting debut on Aug. 31, 1963, at KTBC-TV in Austin, Texas, a station then owned by President Lyndon Johnson and his wife.
“I was a replacement FM disc jockey in the summer of 1963,” Lundquist said. “I had spent the previous year in theological school and I was kind of unsure what I was going to do. I thought about the Peace Corps. Then a sports job at KTBC opened up. So I went in and asked for an audition, and they gave me one. The manager liked it enough to offer me the weekend sports job. They got another fella for Monday-Friday, and I filled out the rest of my schedule as a disc jockey from 5-9 p.m. every day. Eventually, the other guy did not work out, and I got the weekday job.”
Lundquist eventually moved to ABC Sports in 1974 and joined CBS Sports in 1982, where he has called more than 20 different sports. Lundquist is currently the lead college football play-by-play announcer calling the SEC on CBS and also calls the Masters and PGA Championship. He will announce his 31st consecutive NCAA tournament next year.
During an interview last month with SI.com, Lundquist recalled a memorable conversation he had with President Johnson while working in Dallas as a Cowboys broadcaster.
“Patrick Nugent was LBJ’s son of the law and he was married at the time to Luci Baines [Johnson’s daughter],” Lundquist said. “I knew Patrick and I had met the President a couple of times superficially early on. But now it was 1971, and I was doing the pre- and post-game show and color for the Cowboys Network. The Cowboys played the Niners in the NFC championship game, and the President was there. Dallas won the game, and after it over, the President walked in the Cowboys locker room with Secret Service, and more importantly for me, he was with Patrick Nugent. I was doing a locker room show live, and Patrick looked at me. He pointed discreetly at the President and mouthed the words, ‘Would you like to have him on?’ I easily nodded, ‘Absolutely I would.’
“So here comes the President with four Secret Service men, and I welcomed him. I asked, ‘What did you think of the game, Mr. President?’ He said, ‘Well, now, Verne, I am not that much of a sports fan. But I’m really glad the Cowboys did win and represent the state of Texas. Also, I just wanted to come by and tell you that if things don't work out for you in Dallas, we always have a spot for you at home in Austin.’ And with that he turned around and walked away.”