James Kenneth McManus
September 24, 1921
|Died||June 7, 2008 (aged 86)|
Monkton, Maryland, U.S.
|Occupation||Sportscaster, sportswriter, actor|
|Years active||1955–2000 |
|Children||Sean and Mary|
McKay was best known for hosting ABC's Wide World of Sports (1961–1998). His introduction for that program has passed into American pop culture, in which viewers were reminded of the show's mission ("Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sports") and what lay ahead ("the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat"). He is also known for television coverage of 12 Olympic Games, and is universally respected for his memorable 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 protégé of Roone Arledge, is the chairman of CBS Sports.
McKay was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and raised in the Overbrook section of the city in an Irish American Catholic family. He attended Our Lady of Lourdes Grade School and Saint Joseph's Preparatory School. When McKay was 14, he and his family moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where he attended Loyola High School (now Loyola Blakefield). He received a bachelor's degree from Loyola College in Maryland in 1943. During World War II, he served in the United States Navy as the captain of a minesweeper.
In 1946, McKay returned to Baltimore and took a position with The Evening Sun as a police reporter. He was promoted to aviation reporter instead of getting a raise. During this time, he also met Margaret Dempsey, his future wife.
In 1947, McKay gave up his job as a reporter for The Evening Sun to join that same organization's new TV station WMAR-TV. His was the first voice ever heard on television in Baltimore. McKay 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. From 1958 to 1960, McKay served as host and commentator on the CBS television daytime program The Verdict Is Yours. Through the 1950s, sports commentary became more and more his primary assignment for CBS. In 1956-57, McKay teamed with Chris Schenkel to call CBS telecasts of New York Giants football. 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. He had a six-episode stint as host of the game show Make the Connection on NBC in 1955.
McKay was known to motor racing fans as the host of the ABC's annual delayed telecast of the Indianapolis 500. Over the years, McKay worked with race drivers in commentary, including triple Formula One World Champion Jackie Stewart, triple Indy 500 winner Bobby Unser, and Sam Posey.
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. He was on air for fourteen hours without a break, during a sixteen-hour broadcast. After an unsuccessful rescue attempt of the athletes held hostage, at 3:24 AM German Time, McKay came on the air with this statement:
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 this morn-- 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 the day after the massacre praising his work.
McKay also hosted from the studio the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. A happier result came when the U.S. hockey team defeated the Soviet Union in the Miracle on Ice. During the broadcast wrap-up after the game, McKay compared the American upset victory to a group of Canadian college football players defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers (the recent Super Bowl champions at the height of their dynasty).
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.
An avid horse racing enthusiast who raised thoroughbreds, 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 United States race tracks such as the Sunshine Millions.
McKay died on June 7, 2008, from natural causes at the age of 86. He was survived by his wife Margaret, son Sean, daughter Mary Guba, and three grandchildren. McKay died on the same day as the running of the Belmont Stakes (won by Da'Tara that year).
- McKay won numerous awards, including the George Polk Award for his sports and news coverage of the 1972 Munich Olympics.
- McKay was the first sportscaster to win an Emmy Award and won thirteen Emmys in his lifetime.
- 1987: American Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame, inducted along with veteran boxing and horse racing announcer Clem McCarthy.
- 1988: U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.
- 1993: TV Guide named McKay the best sportscaster of the 1970s.
- 2001: Paul White Award, Radio Television Digital News Association
- McKay was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame during its 11th induction.
- 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.
- The National Collegiate Athletic Association has dedicated a scholarship for college athletes for postgraduate study in McKay's honor.
- The Armory in New York City dedicated a High School track meet in his name on December 12, 2008.
- Kent, Milton (May 15, 1998). "In his son, McKay has his biggest thrill". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
- Schudel, Matt (June 8, 2008). "Philadelphia native Jim McKay dies at 86". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on June 11, 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-08.
- Litsky, Frank; Sandomir, Richard (June 8, 2008). "Jim McKay, Pioneer Sports Broadcaster, Dies at 86". The New York Times. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
- Hiestand, Michael (June 8, 2008). "Jim McKay's wide world spanned eras". USA Today.
- Zurawik, David; Keyser, Tom; Fenton, Justin. "Jim McKay dies at 86". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
- Sandomir, Richard (July 19, 2009). "Amid Blizzard, Cronkite Helped Make Sports History". The New York Times.
- Hale, Mark. 5 Questions for Jim McKay. AmericanSportscasterOnline.com.
- Kelly, Christopher (7 January 2006). "Modern Munich lives with its contradictions". Statesman.com. Archived from the original on 7 June 2011.
- Abramson, Alan (5 September 2002). "Black September". Dallas Morning News. Archived from the original on 23 October 2005.
- "Longtime ABC announcer McKay dies at age 86". ESPN.com. 7 June 2008. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
- "Jim McKay". Bio. 2015. Retrieved 2015-03-26.
- TV Guide April 17-23, 1993. 1993. p. 61.
- "Paul White Award". Radio Television Digital News Association. Retrieved 2014-05-27.
- Hall of Fame Archives & Honorees. Accessed 26-03-2015.
- on YouTube
- "NCAA Creates Scholarship in Honor of Jim McKay". TVWeek.com. Archived from the original on 2012-03-23. Retrieved 2008-11-12.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jim McKay.|
- Jim McKay at Find a Grave
- "Loyola Remembers Jim 'McKay' McManus of the Class of 1943," Loyola College in Maryland, Monday, June 9, 2008.
- Jim McKay at The Interviews: An Oral History of Television
- Jim McKay-Hometown Hero
- Jim McKay on covering the 1972 Munich Olympics, 1998 interview by EmmyTVLegends.org (on YouTube)
| Television voice of the
| Television voice of the
| American television prime time anchor, Summer Olympics
| American television prime time anchor, Winter Olympics
Tim McCarver and Paula Zahn
Ernie Johnson Jr.
| U.S. World Cup Television Studio Host
| ABC's Wide World of Sports host
Frank Gifford and Becky Dixon