Updated: Thursday, 19 Mar 2009, 8:38 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 19 Mar 2009, 5:35 PM EDT
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WANE) - "I never wanted to be the story. I wanted to be the storyteller. I've never been driven to want to be on television. Now, it was a childhood dream to be telling these stories."
Those are the words of CBS Sports commentator Jim Nantz in a recent interview with NewsChannel 15's Mark Mellinger. These days, few tell the stories of American sports as well as Nantz, who for years has served as CBS's lead announcer for NFL football, NCAA basketball, and professional golf.
He comes by his craft honestly; saying he grew up listening to master storytellers himself. "I was raised tuning into the Pat Summeralls and Jim McKays, Jack Whitaker, Indiana's Chris Schenkel, Dick Enberg, Curt Gowdy. They were my heroes," Nantz said. "They were much bigger in my world than the athletes who were starring on the field, and I was mesmerized by all that they knew; all their knowledge, their worldliness, their kindness. They were my tour guides. I spent my weekends with them."
Nantz internalized that warmth and professionalism and has made it his own, as evidenced by his trademark welcome "Hello friends!" at the outset of every event he calls.
It's what shapes his style; in an era when a lot of sportscasters are consumed with being clever and getting noticed, Nantz's measured approach is refreshingly different . "Half my life now, I've been with the network. And I see acts come and go. And I see the steady, professional broadcast style always holds up."
Last year, Nantz ventured into new territory: author. He wrote about his relationship with his father -who recently succumbed to Alzheimer's- in the book "Always By My Side."
"He was my ultimate role model and my inspiration and, you know, I wanted to be just like him," said Nantz.
His work became the top-selling sports book of 2008. Thousands of people were touched by it. They write Nantz letters every week. He responds to each personally.
"I wrote the book for I think all the right reasons. I never... my agenda was not to try to sell books or make the best-seller list or write the number one sports book of 2008. I really wrote it to pay tribute to my dad; just to get this stuff down on paper and the reaction has just... it still blows my mind in a beautiful way. It's overwhelming to me how many people have been touched by it," said Nantz.
In the future, Jim Nantz may touch peoples' lives in other ways. Thanks largely to his close friendship with President George H.W. Bush, he's developed a love for politics. He says it's a noble profession; one he might enter 10 years or so down the road.
"I've done this [broadcasting] now for half my life, and I'm not taking it for granted. But you wonder sometimes 'is there something more I could do to try to make a difference?' So that gets -as time marches on- a little bit more and more into the forefront of the brain," said Nantz. "But I'm not ready to give this up yet. You know, someday if I could go run for mayor of my little town or city councilman or state congressman or U.S. congressman -and let's not get carried away; you have to be electable, you have to get elected first- yeah, I think that would be pretty neat. I really do."
Nantz turns 50 this year and says he'll likely re-evaluate his career plans around the time he turns 60. One goal he's set on achieving, though, is to broadcast 50 Masters golf tournaments. This year's will be his 24th.
So, is there a way he could still broadcast the Masters while
serving in politics? "I wonder. That's a good question," said
Nantz. It will be interesting to see how he works out the answer in
the years ahead.