Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Classic TV: The American Sportsman (1965)

Back in the day, ABC had three regular sports programs that aired during the first 1/3 of the year: The Pro Bowlers Tour, Wide World of Sports, & The American Sportsman.

Sportsman, of the three, was exclusively broadcast on Sunday afternoons, plugged in after auto racing, basketball, or whatever else was on the network's sports docket on a particular day. The series launched in 1965, hosted by Joe Foss, who gave way to veteran sportscaster Curt Gowdy after a few years, and it is Gowdy, who was also calling football & baseball for NBC at the time, who was more closely associated with the series, which lasted 22 seasons (1965-86) before ABC, citing declining ratings, discontinued the series.

My memories of the series, like a lot of you, begin with Gowdy and a horde of celebrity guest stars, including Bing Crosby, William Shatner, Cameron Mitchell, and so much more. Outdoorsman Grits Gresham was on so often, it is considered he became a co-host by some sources.

In 2002, ESPN, plumbing the ABC vaults, revived the series as a primetime entry on ESPN2. This version lasted 4 years, with 3 different hosts, including actor Rick Schroeder (ex-Silver Spoons, NYPD Blue) and two-sport icon Deion Sanders (SAY WHAT?). Now, all that's left is to convince Disney to release the series on DVD.

Meantime, scope a promo for the 1972 season, as Gowdy previews the guest stars who'll be joining him. Uploaded by Bionic Disco.

Despite hosting Sportsman for the majority of its run, Gowdy never called any sporting events for ABC. Go figure.

Rating: B.


sandrarita said...

I worked for American Sportsman from 1966-1968. Operating out of small office on the West side of New York, our production crew, Producer, Director, Unit Manager, and other staff were responsible for planning, filming and producing a show ready for air time. From my viewpoint, Curt Gowdy, the 'celebrity' announcer, is a blowhole of a narcissist and has never mentioned the behind the scenes work that made his job possible.

hobbyfan said...

Anyone else with an opinion?

Walton Sellers said...

I've got one. I would like to say that although I never met or spoke with Curt Gowdy, I did speak with his son, Trevor, for about 40 minutes today and he was extremely cordial and grateful that I had good childhood memories about his father's show. If you know of any way to contact Disney (or anyone else that might want to see the classic 1960's-1970's shows brought back on DVD,) please let me know, as I am very interested in the shows dealing with hunting. I thought the shows very very well-done and dealt with the subject matter in a very tasteful manner in the early days.