As Al Meltzer so vividly describes in his exhilarating autobiography, he may be the only person in broadcasting history to have experienced everything in radio and television during a career that began in Syracuse and Buffalo and continued to the major markets of Philadelphia and Chicago. It is believed that he is the only sportscaster to have worked at five TV stations in the same city. He’s witnessed television grow from its infancy to the breathtaking technological advances of satellite TV.
Big Al was there at the beginning, recreating baseball games, sight-unseen, out of thin air. He helped to introduce sports on that newfangled medium called UHF television when viewers needed a special adapter and a circular antenna to pick up a frequently fuzzy black-and-white picture. This was long before the arrival of videotape and instant replay. He stood in front of the camera for the first Monday night football game ever telecast, and sat in the studio as host for the debut of cable TV’s longest-running series in history—HBO’s award-winning Inside the NFL.
Big Al’s autobiography is also an invigorating chronicle about the personalities that he’s had the pleasure of knowing, most memorably Wilt Chamberlain, who granted Al his final exclusive interview. Other notables who play a part in Al’s story include Carmen Basilio, Chuck Bednarik, Tom Brookshier, Jim Brown, Bobby Clarke, Mort Crim, Mike Golic, Dallas Green, Alex Hannum, Wayne Hardin, Harry Kalas, Harry Litwack, Nancy Lopez, Arnold Palmer, Bernie Parent, Joe Paterno, Jack Ramsay, Buddy Ryan, Lou Saban, Dolph Shayes, Fred Shero, Mike Schmidt, Sylvester Stallone, Bobby Thomson, Leonard Tose, Dick Vermeil, Mitch Williams and Pat Williams.
In addition to many delightful events, there have also been some bumps and bruises along the way. Like the time people showered Al with beer after a World Series game. Or the terrifying moment following a National League baseball playoff when he was stormed by angry fans who almost overturned his remote TV truck. And that frightening incident during one of the NFL player strikes when he was tossed around like a rag doll.
It’s all here as Al takes you through his many adventures in the exciting world of sports broadcasting.
About the Authors
The fifty-year sportscasting career of Al Meltzer has ranged from his early years in Syracuse and Buffalo to the major markets of Philadelphia and Chicago. Big Al has done play-by-plays for a number of major league teams, including the Philadelphia 76ers and Eagles, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Buffalo Bills. A ten-time Emmy Award winner, Al Meltzer has won just about every honor in his profession.
For more than forty years, Robert S. Lyons covered professional and college sports for the Associated Press. He is the author of Palestra Pandemonium and coauthor (with Ray Didinger) of The Eagles Encyclopedia.