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Jim McKay

James Kenneth McManus (September 24, 1921–June 7, 2008), better known by his professional name of Jim McKay, was an American television sports journalist.

McKay is best known for hosting ABC's Wide World of Sports (1961–1998). His introduction for that program has passed into American pop culture. He is also known for television coverage of 12 Olympic Games, and for his reporting on the Munich massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics.

McKay covered a wide variety of special events, including horse races such as the Kentucky Derby, golf events such as the British Open, and the Indianapolis 500. McKay's son, Sean McManus, a protegé of Roone Arledge, is president of CBS Sports and News divisions.[1]



Early life

McKay was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and raised in the Overbrook section of the city in an Irish American Roman Catholic family. He attended Our Lady of Lourdes Grade School and Saint Joseph's Preparatory School.[2] At the age of 14 his family moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where he attended Loyola Blakefield high school. He received a bachelor's degree from Loyola College in Maryland in 1943.[3] During World War II, he served in the United States Navy as the captain of a minesweeper.[4]


Later he gave up his job as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun newspapers to join that organization's new TV station WMAR-TV in 1947. His was the first voice ever heard on television in Baltimore, and he remained with the station until joining CBS in New York in 1950 as host of a variety show, called The Real McKay, which necessitated the changing of his on-air surname. Through the 1950s, sports commentary became more and more his primary assignment for CBS. He was originally tabbed to be the lead broadcaster of the network's coverage of the 1960 Winter Olympics, but had to be replaced by Walter Cronkite after suffering a mental breakdown. McKay recovered in time to host the 1960 Summer Olympics from the CBS Television studio in Grand Central Terminal.[5] He had a six-episode stint as host of the game show Make the Connection on NBC in 1955.

He moved on to ABC and was the host of ABC's influential Wide World of Sports for more than 40 years.

While covering the Munich massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics for ABC, McKay took on the job of reporting the events live on his only scheduled day off during the Games, substituting for Chris Schenkel.[4] He was on air for fourteen hours without a break,[4] during a sixteen hour broadcast.[6] After an unsuccessful rescue attempt of the athletes held hostage, at 3:24 AM German Time, McKay came on the air with this statement:[6][7][8]

When I was a kid my father used to say "Our greatest hopes and our worst fears are seldom realized." Our worst fears have been realized tonight. They have now said there were 11 hostages; two were killed in their rooms yesterday morning, nine were killed at the airport tonight. They're all gone.
—McKay, 1972

Although McKay received numerous accolades for his reporting of the Munich hostage crisis (including two Emmy Awards, one for sports and one for news reporting), he stated in a 2003 HBO documentary about his life and career that he was most proud of a telegram he received from Walter Cronkite praising his work he received the day after the massacre.

In 1994, he was the studio host for the FIFA World Cup coverage, the first ever held on American soil. McKay also covered the 2006 FIFA World Cup for ABC. In 2002, ABC "loaned" McKay to NBC to serve as a special correspondent during the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. In 2003, HBO released a documentary by McKay called Jim McKay: My World In My Words, tracing his career. This film outlines McKay's personal and professional accomplishments.

Maryland horse racing

McKay founded Maryland Million Day, a series of twelve races designed to promote Maryland's horse breeding industry. The day-long program has grown to become a major racing event in the state of Maryland, second only to the Preakness Stakes day at Pimlico Race Course. It has spawned more than twenty other similar events at U.S. race tracks such as the Sunshine Millions.


McKay died on June 7, 2008 from natural causes. He was 86 years old. He is survived by his wife Margaret, son Sean, and daughter Mary Guba.[3]


  • McKay won numerous awards for journalism and auto racing. McKay won the George Polk Award for his sports and news coverage of the 1972 Munich Olympics.
  • McKay won over twelve Emmy Awards in his lifetime.[9].
  • In 1988, McKay was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.
  • McKay was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame during its 11th induction.[10]
  • He was selected as the inaugural Dick Schaap Award for Outstanding Journalism recipient in 2002.
  • The NBC broadcast of the 2008 Summer Olympics opening ceremony was dedicated to McKay, per a message at the closing of the broadcast.[11]
  • The National Collegiate Athletic Association has dedicated a scholarship for college athletes for postgraduate study in McKay's honor.[12]
  • The Armory in New York City dedicated a High School track meet in his name on December 12, 2008.


  1. Kelly, Jacques (October 16, 2009). "Margaret Dempsey McManus dies at 89". The Baltimore Sun. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/obituaries/bal-md.ob.mcmanus16oct16,0,4214234,print.story. 
  2. Schudel, Matt (June 8, 2008). "Philadelphia native Jim McKay dies at 86". Philadelphia Inquirer. http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/20080608_Philadelphia_native_Jim_McKay_dies_at_86.html. Retrieved 2008-06-08. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Sandomir, Richard; Litsky, Frank (June 8, 2008). "Jim McKay, ABC Sportscaster, Dies at 86". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/08/sports/08mckay.html?hp=&pagewanted=print. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Hiestand, Michael (June 8, 2008). "Jim McKay's wide world spanned eras". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/columnist/hiestand-tv/2008-06-08-mckay_N.htm. 
  5. Sandomir, Richard (July 19, 2009). "Amid Blizzard, Cronkite Helped Make Sports History". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/19/sports/19sandomir.html?ref=sports&pagewanted=print. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Hale, Mark. 5 Questions for Jim McKay. AmericanSportscasterOnline.com.
  7. Kelly, Christopher (7 January 2006). "Modern Munich lives with its contradictions". Statesman.com. http://www.statesman.com/life/content/life/stories/travel/01/8MUNICH.html. 
  8. Abramson, Alan (5 September 2002). "Black September". Dallas Morning News. http://apse.dallasnews.com/contest/2002/writing/over250/over250.enterprise.second11a.html. 
  9. "Jim McKay, Olympics and ABC announcer, dies at age 86". ESPN. 2008-06-07. http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story?id=3430672. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  10. Hall of Fame Archives & Honorees. Accessed 7 June 2008.
  11. Olympics 2008 Opening Ceremony Intro and Ending **Courtesy of NBC** at YouTube
  12. "NCAA Creates Scholarship in Honor of Jim McKay". TVWeek.com. http://www.tvweek.com/news/2008/11/ncaa_creates_scholarship_in_ho.php. 

External links

  1. REDIRECT Template:Find a Grave


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