New York Times 8/26/2013

Olbermann Set to Return to ESPN and Sports News


So Keith Olbermann is back as a sports guy. I’ll miss his political commentary, but I’m glad he’s overcome whatever he’s overcome.

There are several connections between Olbermann and Shepherd. Olbermann is a Jean Shepherd fan who over the years, on his sports programs and his political commentary programs has given tributes to Shepherd.

On the internet I’ve found several transcripts of his sports programs in which he has expressed his admiration for Shep:

<The immortal humorist and sometimes Chicagoan Jean Shepherd put it best:>

On Countdown Olbermann said, “Well, we had some doozies in this 21st week of 2005, more examples what the late, great Jean Shepherd used to call ‘creeping meatballism.'”

For a period on his Countdown MSNBC television program, he alternated his signoff between Edward R. Morrow’s “Good night and good luck” and Shepherd’s “Keep your knees loose.” When he changed to the unaltering “Good night and good luck,” he kept a reference to Shepherd with the faint-but-discernable Shepherd theme song, “Bahn Frei” playing nightly under brief video-clip segments of ridiculous human foibles.

When the “A Christmas Story House” opened, Olbermann interviewed the owner, mentioning Shepherd.

When the director of A Christmas Story, Bob Clark, died, Olbermann did a commentary.

He wrote the foreword to my Shep’s Army: Bummers, Blisters, and Boondoggles, indicating that he has been a Shepherd fan since his youth.

obermann knees crossed

Shepherd and Olbermann have a long history together

–and that includes their mutual interest in sports.

(Here’s where I segue into Jean Shepherd-and-sports.)

Shepherd played football in high school. As he was a ham radio operator at this young age, he was given the job of commenting on high school sports for a local radio station.

Shepherd claimed that as a young broadcaster he did radio commentary for part of a season for the “Toledo Mudhens” baseball team. He often mentioned his baseball-playing days as a kid. He also claimed that he played third base for “The United Brethren” team.  The guys were hired to play for the church. In the video drama, “Phantom of the Open Hearth,” in a game against  “Immaculate Conception.” Ralphie is seen playing third base. In one of his radio stories, Shepherd talks about soldiers carving out a baseball field in Florida’s jungle, and, it being so hot, they played in the nude. It’s said that Jean Shepherd played professional ball, but this may not be so–his brother Randy, it’s reported, pitched for a minor league farm team and maybe played in spring training in the Majors.

During the year of the “Miracle Mets,” Shepherd did a couple of enthusiastic broadcasts about them. Shepherd made the quasi-documentary video for Major League Baseball about the favorite team of his youth the “Chicago White Sox.” He told several stories on his broadcasts about his father, in the stands, razzing Yankee players.  During a World Series, for its first satellite broadcasts, he did short commentaries for the Armed Forces Radio Network.

Will Keith Olbermann comment again

on his enthusiasm for Jean Shepherd?

Let’s hope so, sports-fans/Shep-fans.

olbermann smiling

Keith Olbermann, Shep-fan.




  1. mygingerpig says:

    Might be interesting to make up a list of people in the public eye (or ear) who have been fans of Shep.

    shepquest wrote:

    > ebbergmann posted: ” > New York Times 8/26/2013 Olbermann Set to Return to ESPN and > Sports News ____________________________ So Keith Olbermann is back as a > sports guy. Ill miss his political c” >

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