An ESPN Nicknamer’s Night Out With the Boys

By Miriam Halberstam

Published May 26, 2006, issue of May 26, 2006.
  • Print
  • Share Share

On a stormy Texas evening earlier this month, almost 900 men turned out to catch ESPN’S Chris Berman at Houston’s fourth annual Men’s Nite Out.

The popular event, hosted by the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, gives the beleaguered sex an opportunity to leave the dishes behind, see old friends and indulge in passionate sports talk. And who better to lead the charge than the robust, down-to-earth Berman?

The award-winning broadcaster was a little-known sports radio talk show host when he joined ESPN in 1979, a month after the all-sports network got its start. Berman quickly made a name for himself with his knowledge and wit and, most of all, with the nicknames he gave athletes — names like Curtis “My Favorite” Martin, and Roberto “Remember the” Alomar.

Since then, the Connecticut native has lived every boy’s dream, covering 24 Super Bowls and 17 World Series while serving as host of such ESPN shows as “NFL Primetime,” “Sports Center” and “Baseball Tonight.”

Berman’s appeal knows no bounds, as men ranging in age from 20 to 70, from the suited to the casually dressed, gathered at Houston’s Westin Galleria Hotel for the event.

When the time came for Berman to leave his table and walk to the stage, the encouraging audience chanted, “He could go all the way!” — Berman’s trademark homerun call.

On taking the stage, Berman noted how nice it was to be among the brethren and the 20 or so“sistren” at the event (all of whom were thrilled that there was no line for the ladies’ room).

Dressed casually in an open-neck pink shirt, a dark jacket and gray slacks, the surprisingly tall — 6 foot 5 — Berman riffed on last year’s height-challenged speaker, Bob Costas. He also bestowed nicknames on several local bigwigs and said, “Kinky Friedman, okay, I knew about him, but I didn’t think there were 1,000 Jews in Texas!”

For more than an hour, Berman gave a freewheeling talk about sports today, some of his career highlights, and told stories of ESPN’s early days.

“The first game we covered was a men’s professional, slow-pitched softball game,” he said. He also confessed to announcing play-by-play for darts, and recalled the time that a skunk entered the control room, didn’t like what he heard, and, well, became a critic.

Berman’s pick for the most memorable game he broadcast was when Cal Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s “unbreakable record” for consecutive baseball games played, on September 6, 1995. “We were crying,” he said. “We won an Emmy for 22 minutes of silence.”






Find us on Facebook!
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.