The Gospel Truth

Me and Bob—Part II of Random Thoughts | July 27, 2012

Bob Costas

Though he raised his family in St. Louis, like myself, Bob Costas is really from Long Island.

I did a guest appearance on our big radio station KMOX many years ago with Costas, and some other St. Louis writer, who was also from Long Island.

Small world!

We were all from New York and here we were in St. Louis, discussing St. Louis baseball.

Bob went to Comack High School way out in Suffolk County.

Insensitive: NBC's Bob Costas noted a controversy over honoring Israeli athletes killed at the Olympics 40 years ago during his coverage of the opening ceremony a the London Olympics, but stopped short of offering his own protest

Went our separate ways

This is the same school that produced Rosy O’Donnell.

You might call them the Dim and the Wit.

The first and only time Bob ever came to one of my homes was in 1974, shortly after he came to St. Louis to broadcast the ABA games for the St. Louis Spirits.

It was his first big time job since leaving Syracuse University.

He asked my seven-year old son Mark, what he thought of  the team and in his inimitable, laconic style, Mark said Spirits stink.

It was as accurate a judgment as any professional sports critic could have rendered.

Consequently Bob admired my son’s candor.

He gave us passes to several games.

There would be no more than 800-1000 people at any of the games.

I remember one game with the New York Nets, who then played on Long Island, where the Spirits burst out to a 22-1 lead and still lost the game.

After each game, we would be Bob’s guests in the Arena Club.

He would do his post-mortem and discuss his performance for that evening.

One time a beautiful young intern accompanied him from KMOX, the flagship of the Cardinals and the Spirits for their first year in St. Louis.

She was a dead-honest knockout.

So while Bob is busy discussing the game with Mark, the seven-year old, I turned on my debatable charm with the pretty redhead.

After that Bob and I went our separate ways.

He went up.  I went in a straight line.

I ran into him years later in St. Petersburg, Florida before an exhibition game at Al Lang Stadium.

As people would happen by, Bob kept thanking people for their notes, letters, and reminders.

I said:  Bob, do you always, answer your correspondence here behind the home plate screen?

He was a with a swarthy-looking guy that really looked familiar to me.

We chatted for a few minutes, until Bob, ever the genial host introduced me to Bobby Valentine, who was scouting for somebody.

Relieved I told my new acquaintance: I knew you were somebody.

I thought you were Bucky Dent, referring to the Yankee, who hit the famous home run ending the Red Sox chance at a pennant in 1977.

He laughed.

I have been a big fan of his ever since.

 Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine (25) in the dugout in the 8th inning.

Knew he was somebody

I was spending my last night of a two-week vacation at the Pink Hotel, the famous Don Cesar in St. Petersburg Beach.

My wife and I have been there 35 times over the years.

I got a phone message that said Bob Costas had called and I was to meet him in the lobby at 9:00 PM.

I was puzzled by the message but at dinner I spied basketball’s Dick Vitale’s loudly, what else, proclaiming that he was to be a guest on Coast to Coast with Costas.

Wanted him and not me

Yes that was it, Bob wanted me to guest for a few minutes on his show.

I go down to the lobby with a couple of my kids and wait for him.

About 8:45 his entourage comes in and I ask Bob:

How can I help you?  He replied:  Oh, I have every thing under control! 

Well, how did you know I was in Florida?  I didn’t, was his reply.

Then why did you leave the message? What message, he stated.

I quietly slinked away in red-faced embarrassment.

Lou Pinella, then the Cincinnati Reds manager came in to be the other guest with Vitale.

I went up to my room to get my camera.

The phone rang.  It was my good friend, Terry Burke, the dentist, who said, Did you get my note? 

I was told it was from Costas.

I said that because I didn’t think you would come.

What!!!

I threatened to ruin his practice, sell his family into slavery, extract his teeth with a box cutter, and so on.

I then went down to try to explain.  I got down on a knee and whispered this sordid tale to Randi Costas, with the faint hope that her husband wouldn’t think I was a real jerk.

The next morning, my nine-year old son, Matthew comes down to the lobby as I am checking out and tells me: Bob Costas just called.

Bob Costas

Costas called! Yeah!!!

What!!! I am not falling for that again! 

No really, he said he’d call back.

Back in the room, my phone rings.

It IS Bob Costas.

I explain the story and he listens passively.

I told him I thought it was not out of the realm of reality to think you might want me to be on the show.

He gave a silent no.

Went to same H. S. as Bob

I had met Terry on the beach years before, after the Holy Cross football coach Rick Carter had committed suicide.

He had played for him at a small school in Ohio and we commiserated.  I had told him I knew Costas and I guess I set myself up.

Burke was the guy who first called me after my picture was in Sports Illustrated in 1987.  He told me the picture was an exact likeness of me.

When I saw it the next day, I was angry as hell.

I looked like a demented dwarf.

Why did they use that picture?

The freelance photographer had taken 297 picture in a three-hour shoot.

The one they used was on the last role.

I had no glasses on…I had a bat draped over my weary shoulders that were all slumped down and I could hardly smile.

Try smiling 300 times in a three-hour period.

To this day, my left cheek spasms when I try to smile for a picture.

In 1997, I received the James Hartnett Award from Birthright of St. Louis.

Monsignor told Stan who I was.

Not only had Monsignor Hartnett baptized my son, Matthew, more importantly, he introduced me to Stan Musial.

I remember the date.

It was a Saturday evening, September 6th, which was my birthday.

What a party—700 of my closest friends.

On the day of the dinner, held at the Ritz, I took my New York cousins, who had flown in for the dinner, down the block to see the Costas residence.

He lived in a large brick home in an exclusive section of Town and Country.

I used to drive by it all the time.

Sometimes I would enter the neighborhood and drive through it.

I did that so many times, they put up a gate!

When we arrived, for some reason the gate was open.

With a nod of the head, the cousins directed me to drive in.

Just as we approached the gate, it started to close.

I quickly veered to the left.  He saw us, I yelled.

Bob Costas

Caught us!

Early that evening, I voiced the wish that Bob’s wife Randi was a member of birthright, so he would be at my dinner.

To my knowledge he had never been to one of their annual dinners.

To my surprise as I mingled with the crowd, who should be leaning against a wall, holding court and answering his mail but Bob Costas.

It seems that his wife wanted him to come.

We talk for a while and I realize that he is clueless as to my being the honoree.

I don’t tell him.

We part and I go about my business.  Well, they introduce me, I give a short speech, which they actually listened to.

Past honorees have had their thoughts drowned out by the less than respectful throng.

I had urged my cousin Ritchie, a customs official at Kennedy Airport, who packs heat to put a round through the chandelier to get their attention but he did not have to do that.

After I got back to my table, Costas rushes over and apologized for not recognizing me as the guest of honor.

He was so polite and suppliant, I almost cried.

I told him, I was just fooling with him.

Bob Costas

Clueless about my dinner

I told he had I known he were coming to this dinner on the 20th at Holy Cross.

But was scheduled to speak at the President’s Council meeting of which I am a member.  He said the 27th.

He owed the president of his network, Bob Wright, Holy Cross, Class a of 1965—my class—a favor.

Bob Wright

Bob owed his boss a favor

Every time what I think contradicts Bob Costas, I immediately think I am wrong.

Costas is the kind of guy who could tell me, my head was on backwards, and I would check in the mirror.

Well, it  really was the 20th.

Was I having a good time night!

We later ran into him after the dinner in the lounge and I told him about his gate.

He said the pizza boy could get into their neighborhood with ease.

Now he tells me!

 
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2 Comments »

  1. I read it. Very interesting. I am not a sports fan so can make no other comment except to know that you are doing ok. PAX

    Comment by Mary B. Lachney — July 27, 2012 @ 2:22 pm

    • Thanks Mary. Unfortunately in this country sports are the biggest distraction from politics that we have and they do provide relief until man’s human nature starts to intrude…think Penn State, battles between millionaires and billionaires make one look to Soap Operas and horror movies—why are blood-sucking shows such the rage–maybe because we feel that’s what our society is doing to us–draining us of our vitality and hope—for any kind of relief. BB

      Comment by bbprof — July 27, 2012 @ 2:33 pm


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About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at bbprof@sbcglobal.net

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