The voice most closely associated with the Olympics is that of
80-year-old Jim McKay, who joins NBC as a guest essayist during
the Salt Lake City Games. Here are some things you may not know
--He was a painfully shy child. When he was a 12-year-old route
boy for Collier's and Women's Home Companion magazines, his
younger sister, Mary Lou, had to knock on doors to collect
payment because he was too timid.
--He was a U.S. Navy officer in World War II and was discharged a
lieutenant after spending four years on a minesweeper, escorting
convoys from Trinidad to Brazil.
--Born James McManus, he was a reporter for The Sun in Baltimore
in 1947 when a colleague asked him to host a variety show on a
new medium. McKay's face became the first seen on Baltimore
television. Three years later he changed his name at the request
of a producer who wanted him to host a program called The Real
February 11, 2002
--His wife of 53 years, Margaret (above, with Jim), was a fellow
Sun reporter. Before their first date, at a game between the
Baltimore Colts and the San Francisco 49ers, she correctly
predicted it would end in a 28-28 tie. He and Margaret, who's his
manager, are minority owners of the Baltimore Orioles.
--During the 1968 Games in Grenoble, McKay's first researcher,
Dick Ebersol (now NBC Sports chairman), crouched behind McKay's
desk and handed him index cards with information while McKay was
--He has won 13 Emmy Awards, but he says his most prized honor is
a cable he got after his marathon coverage of the Munich Olympics
massacre. It read, "Today you honored yourself, your network and
your industry." It was signed by Walter Cronkite.
--McKay is believed to be the first person to hit a golf ball over
the Great Wall of China. "Right into history's most unplayable
lie," he says.
--Unlike most broadcasters, he regularly writes his own copy. His
most memorable phrase? "The thrill of victory and the agony of
Going Once, Going Twice
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