SSTN Interviews Legendary Broadcaster Len Berman
Today we share our interview with legendary broadcaster Len Berman.
Thanks for coming to Start Spreading the News. It is great to have this discussion with you.
To begin, please tell us how you became a sports fan.
I grew up in Queens as a Yankee fan in the 50s. It wasn’t hard to root for a team that wound up in the World Series virtually every year of my childhood.
When did you decide to go into broadcasting?
I don’t know if there was a specific moment, but when I got to Syracuse, I wandered over to the campus radio station, WAER. The rest is kind of history.
As you know, I am an elementary school principal. What bit of advice would you give to all children about following their dreams for the future?
It’s great to have a specific dream but it’s important that you go about attaining your dream in a “general” way. Don’t limit yourself. For example I wanted to be a sportscaster but I took a job in the news department just to get my foot in the door.
You have been a studio host for MLB, the NFL, and the Olympics. Which, sport(s), if any, have you most enjoyed?
Believe it or not I’ve enjoyed all the sports. Not everything about every sport, but each one has compelling aspects.
For example at the Olympics I covered diverse sports like biathlon and archery and found them to be fascinating.
I think I enjoy the inherent drama of all sports competition.
You wrote a book about the 25 greatest baseball players of all time. Please share with us who you think the two or three greatest players ever were.
Well, I have to start with my idol Mickey Mantle. But any discussion of all around great players has to include Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente.
Are you working on any more books?
Why, do you believe, are people so drawn to baseball and its stories, legends, and people?
I can’t speak for the current generation of fans, but when I was growing up baseball dominated. There were three teams in New York City and passions ran high.
Fans of the Brooklyn Dodgers loved to talk about meeting their favorite players in the neighborhood and they were “regularly guys”.
Add to that, we all grew up playing some form of baseball. Stickball, punchball, softball, you name it.
There’s a lot of talk about baseball needing to be “fixed.” Is baseball broken? If you were the Commissioner of Baseball what change(s) if any would you make to the current game?
It’ll never happen, but you can’t have World Series games ending when all the kids in America are asleep. How do you build fans that way?
As for the game itself, it’s basically fine. I would like to see a “pitch clock” to speed things up a bit.
In looking at the history of the Yankees, or baseball in general, what person or event would you like to see a book written about?
I wouldn’t mind a “true story” about Babe Ruth. It seems that all the books about him are romanticized. Ruth to me was the most important figure in baseball history.
I always look for good books about Babe Ruth. Mickey Mantle as well.
In the book and the movie The Natural, the main character wants nothing more than to walk down the street and have people say, “There goes Roy Hobbs, the best there ever was.” Who was the best baseball player you ever saw?
Easy: Willie Mays
Our final question is really just a collection of short answers… What was your favorite baseball team growing up?
Who was your favorite player?
What is your most prized collectible?
An autographed baseball from Mickey Mantle where he wrote: “To Len, Thanks a lot.” He never said what he was thanking me for. I’m guessing for caring about him.
Who is your favorite musical group or artist?
I’m a Billy Joel fan.
What is your favorite food (if it is pizza, what is your favorite pizza restaurant)?
Have to go with Chinese food.
Thank you so much for joining me today, Len. It was a great pleasure. I will enjoy continuing to listen to you on the radio and seeing you on TV.
Please keep in touch.